Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Presentation of an Exceptional Service Award to Agent Rufus W. Youngblood of the Secret Service

December 04, 1963

Mr. Secretary, Mr. Youngblood, Mrs. Youngblood, members of the Youngblood family, ladies and gentlemen:

There is no more heroic act than offering your life to save another, and in that awful moment of confusion when all about him were losing their heads, Rufus Youngblood never lost his. Without hesitation, he volunteered his life to save mine. Nothing makes a man feel better than being an American and to be witness to this kind of noble patriotism.

Rufus, there is no prouder person here this morning than I. You are a brave soldier in the highest American tradition of love for country and for duty. You are a proud son of Georgia. You are an excellent example of all the honored and brave and dedicated and diligent men and the women who work with them who make up what we proudly call the United States Secret Service. A more dedicated group of men I have never known from the Chief to the most humble employee.

I am glad to know that Chief Rowley has made it possible for you to continue to serve the President as you did the Vice President, and I know in so doing that I will have one of the most noble and most able public servants I have ever known.

Thank you.

Note: The ceremony was held at 10:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The President's opening words "Mr. Secretary" referred to Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon. Later he referred to James J. Rowley, Chief, United States Secret Service.

The citation accompanying the award reads as follows:

"This Award is made in recognition of Agent Youngblood's outstanding courage and voluntary risk of personal safety in protecting the Vice President of the United States at the time of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

"Mr. Youngblood was riding in the front seat of the Vice President's limousine within close proximity to the President's limousine when the assassination occurred. Upon hearing the first shot, Mr. Youngblood instantly vaulted across the front seat of the car, pushed the Vice President to the floor, and shielded the Vice President's body with his own. His prompt response in the face of great danger and his readiness to sacrifice his life to save the Vice President were in the highest traditions of the Secret Service. His valor and example make him a worthy recipient of this Award."

The text of the introductory remarks by Secretary Dillon, who read the citation, was also released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Presentation of an Exceptional Service Award to Agent Rufus W. Youngblood of the Secret Service Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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