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November 01, 2009

An American Hero Was Honored Today

Someone most of us (including me) likely never heard of. Officer Leslie W. Coffelt gave his life fifty nine years ago defending the President of the United States.

Major Garrett of Fox noticed dozens of Secret Service agents outside Blair House this morning, at 6:30am, in the rain.

In 1950, Coffelt, 40, was a member of the White House Police Force, the fore-runner to the US Secret Service Uniformed Division. On Nov. 1, of that year, he was standing post with three other officers (Floyd Boring, Donald T. Birdzell and Joseph H. Downs). At the time, city buses dropped off passengers on Pennsylvania Avenue near Blair House.

The Trumans were living in Blair House during White House renovations. On the afternoon of Nov. 1, Truman was upstairs taking a nap.

Two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, approached Blair House from opposite directions and opened fire. Coffelt, stationed inside a guard booth, suffered three gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. Coffelt rallied enough to exit the booth, brace himself against it and, from a distance of about 30 feet, shoot Torresola to death with a single shot to the head.

The last line of defense was another officer in the house, armed with a Thompson submachine gun. Because of Officer Coffelt's actions, mortally wounded though he was, the last line was not approached.

May he rest.

tip andylevy via Twitter.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 09:49 PM

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