I’ve written about Pat Kennedy before. He was one of those early ‘Mad Men’ of the agency and in 1961 was the only agency training officer and set up the first Peace Corps training programs. Kennedy was also the escort officer for the Ghana I Volunteers. That group arrived in-country on the afternoon of August 30 (or the afternoon of September 1, 1961,) on a Pan American DC-7 that had painted on the fuselage, Peace Corps Clipper. John Demos, a PCV on that flight, is quoted in Come As You Are written by Coates Redmon and published in 1986 that “We were set down in Accra on the afternoon of September 1, 1961.”
It had taken the PCVs twenty-one hour to reach Africa according to Kennedy, but others on-board said it took twenty-three hours (but after all those hours who’s counting?)
Gerard T. Rice in his book The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, published in 1985, has Ghana PCVs arriving on August 30, and the Tanzania Volunteers arriving a day later.
In a recent note to me Pat Kennedy writes: “I don’t know who was the first trainee, but Tom Livingston (Ghana I) was the first PCV to reach his volunteer assignment in the field. He arrived at his assignment at Ghanata where he was a teacher.”
Rice confirms that with a statement in his book: “On September 12, 2961, Tom Livingston of Wood Dale, Illinois became became the first Peace Corps Volunteer to begin working overseas when he took up his post as an English teacher at Ghanata secondary school in Dodowa.”
Okay, let the ‘rewriting’ of early Peace Corps History continue….”Who was on First Base….?”