John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. George H. Decker.

September 28, 1962

I WANT to welcome all of you to the White House to participate in a very significant ceremony, and that is the award of the Distinguished Service Medal, an Oak Leaf Cluster, to General Decker. This is also an opportunity for us all to acknowledge a very long and distinguished career in the service of the United States.

General Decker started off as an enlisted man in the New York State National Guard. He then went into Lafayette College and he went into ROTC from Lafayette College and rose to be the head of the United States Army. General Shoup, his colleague on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I think, came to his position of eminence out of Tulane University in Louisiana. What this indicates and what trend this indicates is still uncertain but, in any case, it does indicate the extraordinary talent of General Decker who has successfully moved up the ladder holding positions of the greatest responsibility--in World War II as the Chief of Staff for the Sixth Army in the Pacific--holding positions of great responsibility, and successively being promoted to finally the head of the Army after a very long and distinguished career.

In looking around the Rose Garden today we see various colleagues of his in the Armed Services who themselves held positions of responsibility. We want to welcome all of the members of the most exclusive club or trade union in the world, former and present three-star generals of the United States who are here today, such as General Bradley and others.

I am going to ask Secretary Vance to read this citation.

[At this point Secretary of the Army Cyrus R. Vance read the citation. The President then resumed speaking. ]

I take great pleasure in presenting this award to General Decker. I think that this citation illuminates his career. I just want to say, speaking personally, that I have the highest regard for General Decker and for his loyalty to our country and to those with whom he served. I have been the beneficiary of that service and counsel. In the last year and a half, when we have been working together, we have seen a steady increase in the combatant strength of the Army, the number of combat divisions, as Secretary Vance mentioned, the preparedness of each division, the particular attention which General Decker has given to the development of our special forces, and we have seen some of those results in Korea; the encouragement he has given to younger officers to realize what an important place of service for the next decade the Army will be and the military forces as a whole in this particular phase of our national life. So I hope as he leaves the United States Army after all these years he will feel that his final months of service were the most significant.

Note: The presentation ceremony was held at noon in the Rose Garden at the White House.

General Decker served as Chief of Staff, United States Army, from October 1, 1960, through September 30, 1962.

The text of the citation and of General Decker's response was also released.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. George H. Decker. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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