U.S. Secret Service Honors Officer Who Was Killed Protecting President 70 Years Ago

by Will Shepard

In 1950, Secret Service officer Leslie Coffelt was fatally shot and killed while successfully defending Harry Truman from an attempt on the president’s life. On November 1, Coffelt stood outside Truman’s house guarding the door when an armed attacker shot him.

While the White House was being remodeled, Truman had to say at his Blair House. The Secret Service was on high alert at the time. FOX reports that “Two Puerto Rican pro-independence activists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, [tried to carry] out the assassination attempt.” Coffelt died 70 years ago protecting President Truman.

At this point in time, there had been a handful of assassination attempts and plots on sitting U.S. Presidents, History reports. Before the attempt on Truman’s life, three Presidents – Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and William Mckinley – had been killed. And six more presidents before Truman – once again including Lincoln – had attempts on their lives.

“Harry S. Truman seated at desk” (Uncredited/Getty Images)

An Unsuspecting Hero for Secret Service

But on November 1, 1950, Coffelt foiled the attempt at Blair house through courage and determination. As the only Secret Service member ever to be shot and killed in the line of duty, Coffelt stands alone. Coffelt, protecting president Truman, is remembered as a true American hero.

Without a doubt, Coffelt, woke up that morning and went about his daily routine. At a wreath-laying ceremony in Coffelt’s honor, Police Chief Thomas Sullivan described that Coffelt couldn’t have expected the day.

Although Coffelt was shot three times, he managed to kill Torresola. Again, FOX said this about the gruesome attack:

“Officer Coffelt was hit three times, in the abdomen. He got out of the booth, mortally wounded, fired one round at a gentleman who was trying to go up the steps here at Blair House, and hit him in the back of the head. He stopped him from going in the front door, from 31 feet away, with his revolver.”

Undoubtedly, this will forever be remembered.

Truman summed up the dangers of being President, but more importantly the job of the Secret Service. “It brought home to me the fact that it is not the president who is in danger on occasions of this kind, but it is the men who guard him,” he said.

In what remains of the incredible story, Coffelt’s heroism will always be front and center.

[H/T FOX News]