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A Secret Service Legend Passes

In response to The Power of The Corner

As many readers no doubt have heard, Jerry Parr, the U.S. Secret Service agent who helped save Ronald Reagan from an assassin’s bullets, passed away last Friday, at age 85, from congestive heart failure. As the head of the Presidential Protective Detail, Parr was at Reagan’s elbow when John Hinckley, Jr. opened fire on March 30, 1981 outside the Washington Hilton. Not only did Parr’s lighting-fast reflexes possibly save Reagan at the scene of the shooting, his quick diagnosis inside the presidential limousine that Reagan had been wounded undoubtedly saved the president’s life, as Parr diverted the limo to George Washington University Hospital. It was later revealed that Reagan had lost nearly half his blood, and almost certainly would have died had he returned directly to the White House. 

I wrote an appreciation of Jerry for the Corner back in February, after I had the opportunity to meet him. What I didn’t write at the time was that Jerry had already started failing in memory, and that his health was getting shaky. Yet his humor still shone, as did his humility and kindness. Most of all, I was moved to learn that day how he had devoted his life to God after leaving the elite world of the U.S. Secret Service, a fact passed over by all the obituaries that I have read. His book, In the Secret Service, is a wonderful account of his time protecting some of the world’s most famous and important people. It was an honor to know him. Condolences to Carolyn, his wife, and his family. R.I.P.

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