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November 22, 2013

Former state trooper assigned to security during president’s trips to Kerr Ranch

Duncan couple recalls days of Kennedy

DUNCAN — President John F. Kennedy only visited Oklahoma twice during his presidency. The first was to visit the Kerr Ranch. The second was to attend the funeral of Sen. Bob Kerr.

For Jan Howard-Cannon and her husband Don Cannon, Kennedy’s visits marked important moments in their lives.

Cannon was about 25 years old when he met Kennedy. Cannon was a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. By the time he retired, he was a major over the airline division.

“Kennedy liked law enforcement,” Howard-Cannon said, explaining how Kennedy’s death left a lasting impact on her husband.

During Kennedy’s visits to Oklahoma, Cannon was assigned to security detail. Instead of landing Air Force One in Oklahoma, it landed in Arkansas and the president was flown to Oklahoma in a helicopter. Kerr was one of Oklahoma’s most influential figures and Howard-Cannon said it isn’t surprising Kennedy visited the Kerr Ranch.

“Sen. Kerr was probably the most powerful man in Oklahoma,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll see anyone that powerful again in our lifetimes.”

Her husband’s love of country was prevalent as he flew B-24s in World War II, in northeast Africa, flying out of Casablanca. Cannon also flew out of Wiley Post and had flown several Oklahoma governors during his career as a pilot.

“He misses flying,” she said.

But meeting Kennedy was among Cannon lifetime highlights. And for Howard-Cannon and Cannon the time of Kennedy’s presidency has left memories and a lasting legacy they can look back on fondly.

“That was a special time,” Howard-Cannon said.

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