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National Police Week – Paying Tribute to the Men and Women of the Secret Service

National Police Week – Paying Tribute to the Men and Women of the Secret Service
Podcast Series: 

United States Secret Service (USSS) Public Affairs Specialist Sam Reed and USSS archivist Jason Kendrick discuss the USSS’ “Moments in History” and the stories of those that sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.


I'm Secret Service public affairs specialist Sam Reed. National police week is a time we set aside to pay tribute to the thousands of police officers from around the country who have giving their lives of the line of duty. Now since its inception in 1865 US Secret Service has lost 36 employees in the line of duty. We're going to talk about some of those fatalities and what they mean for our history and I'm here with the Secret Service archivist Jason Kendrick to talk about a few of those employees and how they affect the history of this organization. Jason thanks a lot for talking with us. Thanks Sam. The very first fatality was a gentleman by the name of William Craig. He was an operative what we now know as agents. I guess back then they called them operatives. And he didn't die in the way one would think. Tell me a little about that. The first operative killed line of duty is operative William Craig. He is killed on September 3, 1902 in Pittsfield Massachusetts. There's a speeding trolley and the presidents carriage is hit by the speeding trolley. President Roosevelt was thrown from the vehicle. He only received minor injuries and he's okay but operative William Craig is killed instantly. The first one killed protecting President. And again you think there would be some type of gunplay or shootout or something like. But he gets hit by falling off of a trolley. All right, we fast for just a little bit to the first uniformed officer to lose his life. And now that did happen in a very violent situationÉOfficer Leslie Coffelt. Correct. It's November 1, 1950. President Truman is staying at the Blair House as the White House is undergoing renovations. Two Puerto Rican nationalist attempt to assassinate President Truman. There's a gunfight in front of the Blair House and Officer Coffelt is fatally wounded. He does manage to shoot one of the potential assassins also as he's basically mortally wounded. Now the Blair House is located pretty much across the street from The White house. Correct, right across the street now it's used for dignitary housing. President Truman wasn't harmed in that so he was able to actually stop this attack. Several agents and officers were involved and returned fire. Officer Coffelt, as I mentioned, killed one of the potential assassins. And another one is injured he gets shrapnel in his chest and faints, Oscar Collazo. President Truman at one point comes to the upper window and looks outside to see what all the gunfire is about. Agents have to actually restrain, pull him back to. That's right before officer Coffelt shoots Griselio Torresola. One other significant loss of life that the Secret Service had to endure is the Oklahoma City bombingÉthe most fatalities at one time actually happened, is that correct? Correct. It's April 19, 1995. Our Oklahoma City field office at the time is Murrah Building. So we did lose a six employees in the line of duty during the Oklahoma City bombing. And then again fast forward just a little bit to 9/11 because despite all of the chaos and all the loss of life that was at 911 The Secret Service did lose one employee by the name of Craig Miller, is that correct? Correct, yeah, we had our New York field office was in Seven World trade center. So the third building that fell in the evening on September 11 of our York office was there. We had a bunch of extra personnel preparing for a UN General Assembly also. And we did give 70 valor awards also where individuals put their life in danger helping others for New York field office personnel. But Special Officer Greg Miller was prior militaryÉI believe of US Army and he had some Bronze stars and a Kuwaiti Liberation Medal. So he had extensive training in medical assistance. So we believe he is providing medical assistance at the time of the building's collapse. The last, at least the last fatality I should say happened with an active duty agent. Who was that person? Yes, ATSAIC Christopher J Smith. He has a heart attack in 2005. He's part of our Atlanta office. Has some medical problems, issues, he's in a coma. And he passes away from that heart attack in 2007 two years later. Chris Smith is the last person we've added to the wall back in 2007. Now we honor these 36 people with our Wall of Honor which is located in our headquarters memorial building. And I guess it tells the story of all these individuals, is that correct? We've been in this building since 1998. And we actually call it the Secret Service Memorial headquarters building too. So not only is it the wall but in the naming of the building pay tribute to those 36 individual's sacrifice also. Now you can find out more about these individuals by visiting the Secret Service Moments in History publication. And that's posted on our website. Jason, give them the website. It's and like you said that's where Moments in History the brochure. You can learn about all those individuals and about all of our history also and in that in that book. We encourage everyone to go to that site and take a look at that and we encourage everyone to take part in all of the activities of National Police Week where we pay tribute to the brave men and women who lost lives in service of the country and in keeping people safe. Jason Kendrick thank you very much for a talking with us. And I'm Secret Service public affairs specialist, Sam Reed.
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