Dan & Amy Remember Nancy Reagan w/ Tim McCarthy, Secret Service Agent Who Took a Bullet for Reagan

This morning, Dan & Amy interviewed American hero Tim McCarthy, a decorated Secret Service agent who took a bullet for President Reagan during the 1981 assassination attempt, who remembered fondly First Lady Nancy Reagan. Their families shared a special relationship after both Tim and President Reagan were shot in the line of duty. McCarthy will attend Mrs. Reagan's funeral service on Friday. McCarthy, a Leo High School grad, has served as the Police Chief of Orland Park, IL, since 1994. 

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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy; so Amy, interesting piece in New York Post by Peter Robinson. Peter Robinson was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan; wrote an excellent book, actually; it’s maybe 10 or 12 years old, ‘How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life’; “Why Nancy Reagan was the indispensable woman”, writes Peter Robinson. He recounts two stories in his piece. This one I thought it was appropriate, in advance about our next guest. He recalls standing behind President Reagan in the Rose Garden one morning, as he delivered remarks that Robinson had drafted to an audience of young people, girl scouts, as he recalls; Robinson said his performance was a little bit off that day – his pacing was off, he seemed detached – and he writes, “for once, I think Ronald Reagan was having a bad day; then the movement on the second floor of the residence caught Reagan’s eye; he glanced up; Mrs. Reagan was standing at the window; she smiled, the president beamed, she waved, he waved back, and then he had everyone in the Rose Garden turn around and wave too; when he returned to his remarks, the president picked up the pace, appearing more involved and energetic, even more younger; a smile and a wave from Nancy – they were all Ronald Reagan needed”. Nice story; there’s a lot of nice stories, of course, flowing in; remembrances. We’re now pleased to be joined by another guest, another gentleman with a lot of memories of serving the Reagan's and serving this country honorably. He is Tim McCarthy – long time police chief of Orland Park, but before that he spent 22 years in the Secret Service, and of course most people who lived through the assassination attempt in 1981 remember that Tim McCarthy took a bullet for the President of the United States. We are honored to have Chief Tim McCarthy join us. Chief, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Tim McCarthy: Good morning, Dan. Dan Proft: I noticed on your bio, on the Village of Orland Park website, it mentions your 22 years of service in the United States Secret Service before becoming the Police Chief in Orland Park, but it doesn’t mention the assassination attempt and your role. Is there any reason for that? Tim McCarthy: No, Dan, I don’t think so. It’s something I’m very proud of, but I did what I was trained to do on that particular day; but I also did other things in the Secret Service, and none equally as important, I’m sure; I’m very proud of it, and I’m not looking for a job at the moment, and if I do, I’ll let him know about that too. Dan Proft: Okay, fair enough. Amy Jacobson: Chief McCarthy, after you took the bullet for Ronald Reagan and you developed a closer relationship with First Lady Nancy Reagan; tell me about that. Tim McCarthy: Well, naturally, after something like that, first of all, the President – Mrs. Reagan had no idea who Tim McCarthy was prior to that; there’s an awful lot of agents assigned to protect the president and the line agents, like myself; work three shifts, rotate every three weeks – so he really didn’t know me at all, nor did Mrs. Reagan, but after that, you know, on the day of the shooting, my wife was in the chapel praying with Mrs. Brady and Mrs. Reagan for the recovery of everyone; and it’s just natural when you go through a critical incident like that, that you often draw closer than you might otherwise, and of course, the consequences of losing a President are catastrophic, not just for the family, but the country and the world also. I think Mrs. Reagan understood all of those things and the consequences of something if they had lost the President. Dan Proft: What was it like – just develop what happened in terms of the relationship as you and James Brady and President Reagan were recovering from the injuries you sustained. Tim McCarthy: The first time I’ve really met the President and Mrs. Reagan in person, on a personal basis, is the day I got out of the hospital; I got out of the hospital after 12 days, but received a message to come down to see the President, who was still in the hospital for another week or so after I left; and it sounded a bit like an order, so I complied, and two of my children, at that time, went down to visit with the President and Mrs. Reagan in his room; he was still connected to a lot of different devices and so forth; my wife asserted nervous that the kids at that time found those devices all too interesting. Amy Jacobson: Oh yeah, don’t touch that button. Tim McCarthy: Exactly, and my wife was afraid that my kids were going to finish off the President. Amy Jacobson: What did he say to you and what did Nancy Reagan say to you? Tim McCarthy: We had a wonderful visit, and Mrs. Reagan said ‘Tim, we’re going to get together after this, because we certainly want to show our appreciation and so on’. I didn’t really know how that was going to happen, but lo and behold, they did invite us to parties at the White House, and it’s this time of the year they invite us to the St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, and I was sitting at a table with the President, Maureen O'hara and Chip O'neal, and my wife was at a table with Mrs. Reagan and other hollywood and political celebrities, and it was kind of hard to fit in the conversation, I got to tell you, it was a little bit above my pay grade, but everyone was more than gracious and over the years the president constantly singled out myself and Mrs. Reagan as well, at different events, and sometimes it was a bit embarrassing, because I was actually past on the shift working the president as I was before, and it sometimes got embarrassing to be singled out, but in private, many times they would go out of their way to send a gift on different holidays and things like that. So Mrs. Reagan – I supervised the men and women assigned to protect her, and often traveled with her when she went overseas, to protect her in places that might appear to be a high threat level. We had a lot of conversations about many different things, including her husband, because – as you know – she certainly was instrumental in his political career; going from a Hollywood actor to Governor of California and president of the United States. She certainly had a lot of input into his presidency. Dan Proft: And what were those conversations like, the personal time you spent with First Lady, traveling around the world, even after the story has been written in terms of he’s in the second term as President of the United States, so this is the sunset of his political career; I wonder if Nancy Reagan changed at all during the time while you were still in the political realm. Tim McCarthy: She was first and foremost concerned about his safety when we had our conversations. Every now and again she would talk about his image, and how she felt maybe someone was unfair in regards to their covering the President, and to those that were fair, and I had little comments about that; that was really none of my business, but it was really interesting, so I’d probably just nod my head most of the time, but she would talk about when the President’s going on a trip here, and a trip there, and you know, I saw the advance team was already out, everything they’ve done is speed time, you know, the fast and the foreign governments that worked with us, from what I’m hearing; so she was logically concerned about that when we had conversations. Amy Jacobson: What was your last conversation with Nancy Reagan and when was the last time you saw her; and I assume you were heading to the funeral on Friday, correct? Tim McCarthy: We’re looking at the – yeah, we received notifications Saturday morning, so the logistics are going to be pretty tough, but we were on March of '14, my wife and I, we flew out to visit Mrs. Reagan and go to the library, and we went to the home in Bel Air, which way back when, when Mrs. Reagan was looking for a house, I went out there with her along with her whole security detail and a couple of top secret flights to California, to go house hunting, which naturally they didn’t want to publicize what houses they were looking at, or that they were even there. But there’s March of '14, and we were out there and my wife and I went to visit her, and she was in a wheelchair at the time, but eventually she was totally sharp, and totally in touch with everything going on, and I think the one thing I’ll remember is when we were leaving – first, we were there for about 45 minutes, and I didn’t know if we were getting her overly tired, so I said ‘Mrs. Reagan, maybe we’ll get going’, she said ‘Absolutely not; don’t go anywhere’; so we stayed for another hour, just discussing old times and the President and different experiences we had together, but at the end, when we walked out, she got out of her wheelchair and physically walked us to the door; she held onto my arm pretty tightly and her nurse that was there said she hadn’t went out of the chair in some time. But what I will remember is that a couple of weeks ago, in February, it was the President’s birthday, and I sent out a dozen red roses to Mrs. Reagan, just in memory of her husband, and she sent – it was just a week after that, the last week in February – she sent a really nice note back, thanked me for remembering, and that type of thing. Amy Jacobson: You got to frame that note. Tim McCarthy: Yeah, I will, you can count on that. It was funny, my wife and I were coming home from Indiana on Sunday morning when we first heard about her passing, and my wife – saying to Carol ‘Carol, I think I have my folder here in the car; I think I have the note she just sent us’; and I did, so it was fond memories of two wonderful people that had one remarkable life story; going from Hollywood actor and actresses to the White House; a heck of a story, and of course all Presidents accomplished a lot of things, and president Reagan had some significant accomplishments as well. Amy Jacobson: You’re making me cry. Dan Proft: Alright, he is long time Orland Park police chief, Secret Service agent, and I think people… Amy Jacobson: All around good guy. Dan Proft: He’s a bit modest, which I think it’s okay, but I think it’s fair to call Tim McCarthy an American hero; I think most people would say that, deservedly so; and we certainly appreciate your time, Chief McCarthy, and your remembrances of Nancy Reagan. Thanks so much for joining us. Tim McCarthy: Thanks Dan, thanks Amy.

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