John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer

October 01, 1962


I wonder if we can have some of General Lemnitzer's old colleagues come forward, General White, General Bradley; Admiral Radford, I think, is out there. General Devers, would you come over here? Come up here, General, and join us. General Twining, General Collins.

If there're any other generals there, we're glad to welcome you all and we're glad to have this opportunity to participate in this ceremony.

Actually, General Lemnitzer is already somewhat leaning to the left with all the braid that he carries, but I'm glad to add another Oak Leaf Cluster to his two Distinguished Service Medals.

General Lemnitzer has had an extraordinary career and has held positions of great responsibility. He was highly recommended to me for his character and integrity and ability by General Eisenhower when I assumed my office. The fact that he has been willing to undertake what is the most difficult, sensitive, and in many ways the most important command in the United States, which is Commander of our forces in Europe, and also the Commander of NATO, which means that he serves all of our NATO partners as their representative as well as mine, these two hats that he wears have been worn by distinguished officers, but he wears these hats at a very critical time in the life of NATO and in the critical period in the defense of Western Europe and Berlin, so that I am privileged to participate in this award.

But I think that the General knows that even the more substantial award is the confidence we all have in him and the confidence of other nations in wishing him to assume his new position at a time when so much of our security depends on his good judgment and so much of the peace.

[At this point Assistant Secretary of Defense Roswell L. Gilpatric read the citation. Following General Lemnitzer's response, the President resumed speaking.]

I know that all of us take satisfaction in the fact that so distinguished an officer as General Norstad, who has been a great servant for the West, is being succeeded by another distinguished officer, so we're very grateful to him and we hope that he will be visiting us at the White House shortly. And I'm sure that he shares the same satisfaction that you're succeeding him, General.

Note: The presentation ceremony was held at 11 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

General Lemnitzer served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from September 30, 1960, through September 30, 1962.

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

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

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