Secret Service History: Through The Decades

Secret Service History: Through The Decades
Secret Service History: Through The Decades

Monday, August 27, 2012

Merletti/ Merletti

For Indianapolis Colts safety Matt Merletti, protecting U.S. presidents was just part of 'family business'
11:09 AM, Aug. 24, 2012

Matt Merletti can’t land a job with the Indianapolis Colts, the undrafted rookie safety might try a more dangerous line of defense: the U.S. Secret Service.
It’s not just a backup plan. It’s the family business.

His father, Lew, spent 25 years in the Secret Service, the last two as its 19th director. He helped protect presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and was Special Agent in Charge on Clinton’s detail in the mid 1990s.

Matt’s brother, Mike, has been accepted into the Secret Service and is waiting out a hiring freeze. Cousin Chris Funk, who grew up in the Merletti household, has been with the Secret Service for 16 years. Lew Merletti’s cousin, Rob, just left President Obama’s detail.

“It would be an interesting career if I would want to pursue that,” Matt Merletti, 24. “It’s definitely on the table for me.”

The NFL is pressure-packed, but not like this.

“There would be a lot more stress guarding the president, having to put your life on the line and step in front of a bullet,” he said.

As a kid, Merletti dressed up as a football player or an Army soldier. For now, the former Cleveland Browns ballboy is chasing his football dream. His dad, who left the Secret Service directorship in 1999 for the Browns, is the team’s senior vice president of security.

“Ask him about Osama bin Laden,” Matt said of his father.

Lew doesn’t need much prompting to talk about the terrorist mastermind behind 9/11. As someone who had studied bin Laden and other terrorists, he warned about the threat years before 9/11. When the first World Trade Center tower was struck by a plane, Lew knew who was behind it.
“When it happened, as soon as the first one went in, I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s bin Laden,’” said Lew, 64. “I had worked so hard when I was in the Secret Service to try to warn Congress, everyone, that this guy is for real. We had to stop this guy.”

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, the Browns’ secondary coach in 2001, recalled watching the attacks on TV at the team facility with Lew.

“Right off the bat, Lew said, ‘I’ll bet Osama bin Laden is behind this,’” Pagano said. “He knew.”

Matt and his brother were aware, growing up, how scary the world could be. He was just 7 when the boys were taken to Secret Service headquarters and taught how to shoot guns.

That was in response to a terrorist who said on an intercepted radio communication that he wanted to learn everything possible about Lew, his family, his residence.

“I remember it, but I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Matt said. “We had to learn how to shoot guns. They hid guns in our house.”

That was another part of growing up in the Merletti home — knowing where the guns were hidden for protection.

Anybody who meets Matt or Mike makes the connection to Lew. They look alike. When told of Pagano’s assessment that Matt is a “chip off the old block,” both father and son laugh.

It was Lew’s commitment to his family, the recognition of the risk involved, that eventually led to his Secret Service departure. That and the loss of a close friend and colleague killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

When Browns owner Al Lerner promised to make Lew “an offer you can’t refuse,” the father talked it over with his sons. The boys loved football. They wanted him to take the job with the Browns.

Pagano has known Matt since those ballboy days in Cleveland and coached him for a year in college at North Carolina. Merletti had an injury-marred college career but showed enough in his Pro Day workout to attract interest from the NFL.

“He’s a bright, young man, loves football, he’s got all the traits you’re looking for in a person,” Pagano said.

The Colts coach can relate to family bloodlines. Pagano’s father, Sam, was a successful high school football coach. His brother, John, is San Diego’s defensive coordinator.

“When Matt had the opportunity to go to the Colts, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is where you belong. This is your niche, Matt. This is the perfect leader for you,’” Lew said, referring to Pagano.

Undrafted players are typically longshots to make the final roster. The first round of cuts are Monday, with the final trim to 53 on Aug. 31.

“We’re hoping for the best,” Lew said. “The one thing we’re going to do is what we’ve done our whole life: We’re going to try our very hardest.”

Matt credits his father for instilling a dedicated work ethic. Lew attributes some of that to a tip he received in the Soviet Union while protecting President Reagan on a 1988 visit to Moscow. An Olympic trainer advised a pull-up training regimen beginning on a child’s sixth birthday to strengthen not just the mind but body.

“The last count I had on Matt’s pull-ups was in excess of 43,000, as of his sophomore year in college,” the elder Merletti said.

While Secret Service legacies are typically successful because the next generation knows what to expect, Matt and Lew aren’t thinking too far ahead. It’s all about football, at least for now.

Lew eagerly awaited his son’s NFL preseason debut on Aug. 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium when his phone buzzed at 1:14 p.m., about 15 minutes before kickoff.

Just before leaving the locker room, Matt sent the text message: “Thanks for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be here without you. I love you.”
The father beamed.

“I’ll be honest with you,” Lew said, “I sat in the stands with tears in my eyes.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

Assassination of President William McKinley: great online resources


United States Secret Service Agent Killed While Protecting President Theodore Roosevelt To Be Honored In October

United States Secret Service Agent Killed While Protecting President Theodore Roosevelt To Be Honored In October

By Theodore Roosevelt Association

Theodore Roosevelt Association

Last modified: 2012-08-23T08:13:11Z

Published: Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 - 1:12 am

Copyright 2012 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2012 -- William J. Craig, First Operative to Die in the Line of Duty, to Be Recognized during Theodore Roosevelt Association's 93rd Annual Meeting

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA) will pay tribute to Chicago native William J. Craig, the first Secret Service agent to die in the line of duty while protecting America's top elected leader, during the TRA's 93rd annual meeting. The four-day conference will be held October 25-28 at the Union League Club of Chicago.

The program recognizing Craig will include a short video on his life, his service to President Theodore Roosevelt, and details of his untimely death while protecting the President. Expected to attend the event on Saturday, October 27 is current United States Secret Service director Mark L. Sullivan.

A native of Glasgow, Scotland and a former bodyguard to Queen Victoria, Craig joined the Secret Service in Chicago in 1900. He was assigned to the White House in 1901, just as the Secret Service assumed responsibility for protecting the president.

On September 3, 1902, Craig was killed in a collision between a trolley car and a carriage in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The accident occurred while he was riding with President Roosevelt on a speaking trip. A speeding trolley car crashed into the carriage and the impact killed agent Craig, whose last words as he tried to shield the President were "Look Out, Hold Fast". President Roosevelt, who was thrown from the carriage, narrowly escaped death and was seriously injured, spending many weeks in a wheelchair. Roosevelt later said of Craig, "The man who was killed was one of whom I was fond of and whom I greatly prized for his loyalty and faithfulness."

Tweed Roosevelt, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Association and great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, stated, "We are pleased to honor and recognize agent Craig for his service to Theodore Roosevelt. Without the heroic actions of agent Craig, my great-grandfather might have perished that fateful day."

The theme for the 93rd annual meeting is "The Centennial Celebration of the 1912 Progressive Party Convention in Chicago." The conference will feature prominent historians and authors speaking on Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 presidential campaign.

Details of the meeting and registration information are available at

Founded in 1919 and chartered by Congress in 1920, the Theodore Roosevelt Association is a national historical society and public service organization that has perpetuated the memory and legacy of the nation's 26th president through an array of historical and cultural activities. Its members come from every state and have diverse backgrounds, but they all share a keen interest in history and in furthering the legacy of one of America's first modern presidents.