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Letters Relating to the Disarming of Bombs in Birmingham by Members of an Army Unit.

April 03, 1965

[ Released April 3, 1965. Dated April 2, 1965 ]

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The Honorable Albert Boutwell, Mayor of the City of Birmingham, Alabama, has written to me commending those members of the United States Army from Fort McClellan who recently performed brave and unusual service following the discovery of six dynamite bombs in Birmingham.

Mayor Boutwell points out that these members of the 142nd Ordnance Detachment (Explosives Disposal), approached and disarmed each bomb, without hesitation, when several of the devices were within minutes or even seconds of explosion. He especially commends their remarkable personal courage, and the excellent Army training which prepared them for this crisis.

I wish to add my own praise and admiration to that expressed by Mayor Boutwell for these fine young men, and request that you convey my personal appreciation to the Secretary of the Army and to the men themselves. Their performance on this occasion of peril is an outstanding example of the dedication and devotion to duty so characteristic of the men and women in our Armed Services.



[Honorable Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C.]

Dear Mayor Boutwell:

Please accept my deep and sincere thanks for your recent letter commending those brave members of the 142nd Ordnance Detachment (Explosives Disposal) who recently came to your assistance in a time of dire need. I have taken steps to formally add my own profound appreciation to that expressed by you on behalf of the City of Birmingham.

The personal courage and high professional skill which you so rightly commend in these fine young men has demonstrated, once again, the great depth of gratitude which all our Nation owes to the dedication and sense of duty we have learned to expect from those who wear our country's uniform.

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that the atrocious action which these young men were able to forestall was an "outrage against all the people of Birmingham, and, indeed, against the people of the United States." Rest assured that you will have my own support and the support of this Government in your continuing effort to identify, apprehend and convict the person or persons responsible.

No person, whatever his grievance, can be allowed to attack the right of any American to be secure in his home, his Church, and in his streets.



[Honorable Albert Boutwell, Mayor of Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama]

Note: Mayor Albert Boutwell's letter to the President, released April 1, was also signed by M. E. Wiggins, President of the City Council of Birmingham, and W. C. Hamilton, Director of Public Relations. In the letter, dated March 23, the Birmingham officials commended the "willing and instantaneous response" of 1st Lt. Eric S. Sheffer, commander of the 142d Ordnance Detachment stationed at Fort McClellan, Ala., who, when informed of the emergency, immediately dispatched M. Sgt. Marvin M. Byron and Sp. 6 Robert M. Presley to disarm the bombs. The letter also praised the enlisted men's courage and excellent Army training which prepared them to handle the situation quickly and efficiently.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letters Relating to the Disarming of Bombs in Birmingham by Members of an Army Unit. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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