John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to Adm. Robert L. Dennison

April 29, 1963

It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you here this morning. We had hoped to have President Truman with us and I received a letter only Saturday saying that because he hasn't been feeling as well as he had hoped he would be unable to come. He had counted on coming, because of his long friendship with Admiral Dennison.

I want to express a warm welcome to all of you who served with the Admiral in various phases of a long and distinguished career. And so it is a great pleasure for me personally, and also speaking for the American people, to express our thanks to him.

The most recent distinguished service that Admiral Dennison rendered, of course, was when he was Commander in Chief of the mobilization which took place of our forces in the October 1962 crisis. And the efficiency and skill and judgment with which that operation was conducted, I think, reflected the greatest credit upon Admiral Dennison as well as the Armed Forces of the United States.

He wears now four hats: SACLANT for NATO; CINCLANT, Commander of the joint Army-Navy-Air-U.S.; CINCLANTFLT, U.S. Naval Forces; CINCWESLANT, which is a dual hat within NATO of the control of the shipping organization. So that when the Admiral goes, he is going to be greatly missed. And it is a great pleasure for me, on behalf of the American people, to present this very deserved decoration after a long career in the service of the United States.

It gives us all an opportunity to say, again, how obligated we are to the men of the Armed Forces who serve our country with, I think, too little notice and who do it at great sacrifice to themselves, away from their country and families for long periods of time. And in awarding this decoration to Admiral Dennison, we really, in a sense, are trying to pay some small tribute to those who make it possible for us to be here today.

"The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to Admiral Robert L. Dennison, United States Navy, for services set forth in the following citation:

"For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States in duties of great responsibility during the period February 1960 to April 1963 as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Commander in Chief Atlantic, and Commander in Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

"Admiral Dennison, as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, demonstrated a comprehensive grasp of far reaching strategic concepts and skillfully directed the highly sensitive aspects of this assignment. He contributed substantially to the high state of readiness and efficiency of the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"Through his exemplary tact and diplomacy in dealing with representatives of foreign governments, he was instrumental in maintaining harmonious relations throughout his command and gave added meaning and reality to the concept of collective security. A most significant accomplishment, one with the broadest impact, was his contribution to the successful introduction of the Polaris submarine into the United States fleet, particularly in the establishment of effective command and control of this system so vital to our national security.

"During the Cuban crisis of 1962, his superb leadership and professional skill were demonstrated by his direction of the military forces assigned to his command. Admiral Dennison has earned the respect, trust and confidence of the leaders of all United States military services, the leaders of the Organization of American States and the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with consequent improvement in allied solidarity.

"His dedication and inspired devotion to duty reflects the highest credit upon him and is in the highest tradition of the United States Naval service.

"John F. Kennedy"

That is a lengthy way of saying, Admiral, thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at noon in the Flower Garden at the White House.

The text of Admiral Dennison's response was also released.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to Adm. Robert L. Dennison Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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