The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Richard Nixon
Remarks on Presenting the Distinguished Service Medals of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to General Lyman L. Lemnitzer.
July 11, 1969

Mr. Secretary, General and Mrs. Lemnitzer, all of the distinguished guests here in the Rose Garden this morning:

This is a very historic occasion, as are many of the occasions in the White House, historic because we honor a man today who completes over 50 years of service to his country in the Armed Forces of the United States, and historic because at this time General Lemnitzer will receive the Distinguished Service Medal of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

Now, others have received all three of those awards, but for the first time in history, a man who has served the Nation so well in so many different capacities will receive all three at the same time, and finally, because it allows an opportunity for me, not only as President of the United States, but also as an individual who has worked with General Lemnitzer, going back over 15 years, to speak of his work and to say what it means.

He is a distinguished, professional soldier, and I say that as a compliment. He is a professional soldier in the great tradition of the American Armed Forces, a man who is proud of wearing the uniform of his country, but a man who respects the civilian authority.

He is one who could best be described as a work horse rather than a show horse. He served in World War II; he served in Korea; he served as our Supreme Commander in Europe, and in all of these capacities when something had to be done that required hard, diligent work without the publicity and, I suppose, all of the glamour that goes with the other types of assignments, General Lemnitzer was a man we so often turned to.

And because of these capacities, I would say that in all of our Armed Forces today there is probably no man who is more respected by all the services for his professional capacity than General Lemnitzer.

Finally, I would say, not only do we respect him here in this country, but he is respected abroad. I noted that he has received at least 13 decorations from foreign governments, including, I noted, one from Thailand, the Order of the White Elephant.

And as far as that Order is concerned, General, I can assure you that we will impute to it no political considerations today.

Now the citation will be read by the Secretary of Defense.

[Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird read the citation, the text of which follows.]




General Lyman L. Lemnitzer distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Government and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in positions of great responsibility as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) from 1 January 1963 to 1 July 1969, and as Commander in Chief, United States European Command (CINCEUR) from 1 November 1962 to 5 May 1969.

Evidencing an unshakable faith in the principles and objectives upon which NATO was rounded, General Lemnitzer sacrificed the privileges and freedom of retirement which he had long since merited in order that he might further serve the Alliance by assuming the duties of SACEUR/CINCEUR. Remaining in uniform for an additional six and one-half years, he tirelessly and selflessly contributed to the cause of NATO and thereby to the security interests of the United States and the Free World. Among his notable contributions during that period were his persuasive efforts to encourage the member nations of Allied Command Europe to produce and maintain the forces necessary to make their deterrent credible and their capability to defend Europe unquestionable; his translation of strategic guidance from the North Atlantic Council into realistic defensive plans for the Alliance; his direction and guidance of the required relocation from France of some 100,000 personnel and more than one million tons of supplies and equipment; the development of a new $35 million headquarters complex to accommodate SHAPE in Belgium.

These singularly distinctive accomplishments clearly established General Lemnitzer as a truly outstanding officer of international status and culminated more than 50 years of continuous uniformed service with more than 27 years service as a general officer. A grateful nation recognizes that General Lemnitzer's long and distinguished career continues the finest traditions of the military service and reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Armed Forces of the United States, and the United States of America.

Citation: Richard Nixon: "Remarks on Presenting the Distinguished Service Medals of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to General Lyman L. Lemnitzer.", July 11, 1969. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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