Jerry Parr died last week. Jerry was a true American hero. He was in the right place at the right time and acted with foresight and decisiveness. Because of his actions Jerry changed the course of American history.
I knew Jerry because he was a member of an association managed by my former company. The company was Diversified Management Services (DMS), the association was the Association of Former Agents of the US Secret Service (AFAUSSS) and Jerry became an American hero because he saved the life of Ronald Reagan.
The story is this. At 2:27 p.m. on the afternoon of March 30,1981 while leaving the Washington Hilton in Washington DC, the President was shot by John Hinckley Jr. In the few seconds after the shots rang out, Jerry tossed the president on to the floor of the limo and per standard operating procedure told the driver to head back to the White House. Once on the way the President complained of pain in his chest. At first it was thought that Jerry had broken the President’s rib when he tossed him back into the limo. It was not known until later that a bullet, which had ricocheted off the side of the limo, had hit the President.
Although up until that time Secret Service Agents were not given much in the way of medical training, Jerry had the presence of mind to see that something other then a possible broken rib was gong on with the President. Jerry ordered the limo to turn to George Washington University Hospital. The hospital ride was 4 minutes. Every expert who reviewed the situation since has stated that without the quick action of Jerry Parr the President would have died, and the course of American history changed.
The events of that day are seared in my memory because at almost the exact moment the president was shot I was landing at Washington National Airport in DC (later to be renamed Reagan National airport) and was headed to the Hilton, although I quickly learned I was headed to the Capitol Hilton not the Washington Hilton.
In addition to saving the life of the President of the United States, Jerry was a kind, generous and wonderful person: What a life well lived.