Sunday, May 11, 2014

Death of Secret Service Agent Lem Johns

Sadly, another Secret Service agent, who had a remarkable career in the service of our country has died.  Lem Johns was one of the agents on Vice President Lyndon Johnson's Secret Service Detail in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He is seen standing in the doorway of Air Force One in the iconic photo of LBJ taking the oath of office. 

Two years later, in 1965, Johns became the Special Agent in Charge of Presidential Protection.  Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Lem spoke the same language as President Johnson, both of them southerners, through and through. When Johns was promoted to Assistant Director of all protective forces, Clint Hill succeeded him in becoming the Agent in Charge of President Johnson's detail.

Clint Hill recalls Johns as an extremely dedicated agent.  "He and Rufus Youngblood saved my career," Hill says. "When I first went to the ranch in 1964, President Johnson didn't want me on the detail.  But Lem and Ruf convinced him to keep me on.  In the end, I succeeded Lem as Agent in Charge, and President Johnson trusted me implicitly."

Lem's proudest legacy was that his son, Jeff, and then his grandson Mike, became Secret Service agents, as well.

Last week, Clint Hill and I happened to be in Austin, Texas at the LBJ Library and at the LBJ Ranch, in Stonewall, Texas, where all the Secret Service agents spent a great deal of time during the Johnson administration.  Below are some additional photos of Secret Service Agent Lem Johns.

For more on Lem Johns' life and career, see the attached article in today's New York Times.

NY Times: Lem Johns Dies at 88