Rawhide Down

Forty years ago, on March 30, 1981, delusional Jodie Foster fan John Hinckley, in an attempt to attract the attention of the actress, came close to assassinating President Ronald Reagan, whose Secret Service codename, a tribute to his Western roles as an actor, was Rawhide.

Reagan had just finished a speech at the Washington Hilton, when Hinckley left off six shots. One bounded of the Presidential limousine and entered Reagan through his left underarm, breaking a rib, puncturing a lung and causing serious internal bleeding. Reagan was near death when he arrived at George Washington University Hospital. Reagan walked into the hospital because no stretch was ready, waving to bystanders. Inside he collapsed. His superb physical condition for a 70 year old, and the quick work of the emergency room team saved his life. Later in surgery Reagan quipped that he hoped they were all Republicans. His surgeon, a Democrat, responded that they were all Republicans today.

Reagan left the hospital on April 11. His recovery speed was remarkable, but his recovery was not complete until October. His close call left Reagan with the conviction that God had spared his life for him to serve some higher purpose.

Hinckley shot three other men that day.

White House Press Secretary James Brady was hit in the head by the first round. He would survive but with permanent mental impairment. He passed away at age 73 in 2014.

DC cop Thomas Delahanty was hit in the back of the neck by the second round, the bullet ricocheting off his spine. He would survive and retire from the force due to nerve damage to his left arm from the shooting.

Alfred Antenucci, a labor official from Ohio, charged Hinckley, hit him in the head, and wrestled him to the ground. Secret Service agents were pushing Reagan into the limousine, and probably saved him from being shot in the head by the third round.

Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, shielding the President with his own body, was shot in the lower abdomen by the fourth round, McCarthy making a full recovery.

The fifth round hit the bullet resistant window of the open rear door, and the sixth bullet hit Reagan.

Hinckley was by this time subdued by bystanders and a Secret Service agent.

Oddly since 1840 every American President elected in a twenty year repeating sequence died in office. The unsuccessful attempt on the life of Reagan broke that bad streak.

Hinckley was found not guilty due to insanity and was committed to Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. Beginning in 2006 he was allowed to spend time with his mother and was released full time to live with her in 2016. Being deranged caused Hinckley to fit right in with the rogue’s gallery of Presidential assassins.

Published in: on April 8, 2021 at 5:30 pm  Comments Off on Rawhide Down  
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