As a young boy, my dream was be a police officer and at the young age of 19, I joined the Houston Police Department. After completing the academy and field training program, I was assigned to night shift patrol. After 12 years in patrol, I applied and was accepted into the prestigious Houston Police Department Solo Motorcycle Detail. As a solo officer, I had two primary assignments: freeway patrol and dignitary protection of both domestic and international leaders.
Of the many dignitaries I had the pleasure of meeting and protecting, my fondest memory was of President George H.W. Bush, #41. Although President Bill Clinton was in office when I transferred to the solo detail, we still had many occasions to escort President Bush.
President Bush was different than most dignitaries I met. Although they were cordial, not all were friendly, as though they were better than everyone else. President Bush, (and First Lady Barbara Bush) was the exception. He had been the leader of the greatest country in the world and he was a “regular” guy. His smile was sincere, his eyes spoke with concern and truth, his hand shake was firm and he spoke with humility.
Never was there a schedule too busy or weather too bad for him to walk over and speak with us. He would always ask about our families or if he could get or do anything for us.
On one particularly hot Texas day, we were staged in front of the Bush’s home for a briefing with our sergeant when we heard a jovial voice say, “you fellas look thirsty.” As we turned to look, there were #41, First Lady Bush and their dog, Millie. President and Mrs. Bush had their hands full with cold bottled water and Texas-size smiles on their faces.
He began to laugh at himself as he dropped a few of the bottles but that quickly turned to hollering for Millie to leave the bottles alone. After making sure everyone had water, he began to pray for us and our families after which time he thanked us individually and reinforced, “be careful.” What a wonderful human being.
As I heard of the passing of #41, a rush of memories came flooding back — not of politics but of the gracious, humble and sincere man I had the pleasure and honor of protecting.