Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965

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Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: August 3, 1965

399
Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to Maj. Gen. C. V. Clifton, Jr.
August 3, 1965

General Clifton, Secretary Resor, Members of Congress, Secretaries of the services, members of the service, distinguished guests:

One of the oldest and one of the most honored offices of the Government of the United States is the Office of Military Aide to the President of the United States.

One of the most honored men to ever hold that office—but let me hasten to add, not one of the oldest—has been the officer that I have come here with you to join in saluting today.

It was 33 years ago that Gen. Ted Clifton entered West Point to graduate with the class of 1936. The members of that class could not know, as the Nation would not know, that so little time remained before the world would again be at war and they would be involved.

But it was not many years later, when in the European theater, that General Clifton was called upon to command the 1st Heavy Artillery Battalion there. And from Caserta to France and on through Germany, he supportedthe infantry and the armor of the 5th and of the 7th Armies, the British 8th Army, and those of the French forces. As an officer in combat he was outstanding.

When the war ended, his intelligence, his judgment, his demeanor, and his forthrightness led him to the councils of the highest leaders in his land.

In 1948 he joined the staff of the revered Gen. Omar Bradley, and from that day on, almost without interruption, Ted Clifton’s career has been the valuable role of adviser and helper, and mediator and interpreter, and always friend.

You will always find him in the background but he’s really never beyond reach.

General Clifton has been both an observer and a participant in the higher councils of our Government, and his influence-at least upon me has been of the greatest value and, I think, the greatest worth to his country.

In 1961 he was chosen as the Military Aide to our late, beloved President, John F. Kennedy and, knowing him as I did, I asked Ted Clifton to continue as my Military Aide during the period that I have been Commander in Chief.

The services he has performed for me have been many and varied. They are services which have very often been quite tedious, usually demanding—although not so demanding as some would think—but rarely rewarding.

I shall always be grateful to him for the manner in which he has always met his responsibilities in the task entrusted to him throughout this period.

So, today, after this long career of loyal and dedicated and modern and imaginative service, I know that it is not without certain regret that General Clifton now leaves the service to which he has given his entire life. But I am happy and I am gratified that this exceptional man of rare talents will have a new and a broader horizon of opportunity as he enters civilian life.

Today, General Clifton, for myself and for Mrs. Johnson—and he’s not unpopular with the ladies, I might add—for all of us here at the White House, as a matter of fact, I express to you our very deep and great appreciation for the dedication which you have brought to your profession, for the intelligence and the judgment with which you have inspired and have led the men who have served for you and with you.

And in appreciation for what you have done, and with the personal thanks for the support that you have given to both President Kennedy and to me, it gives me a great deal of personal pleasure in awarding you, this morning, here among your friends and the staff that you have led and served so well, your country’s Distinguished Service Medal. You have earned this medal, and you have earned with it the respect and the gratitude of the entire Nation.

And to you and Mrs. Clifton and your family, I want you to know that wherever you go, whatever you do, we will be pulling for you, we will be remembering that the day was never too long, the night too dark, for you to do what the boss needed done.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:22 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Maj. Gen. C. V. Clifton, Jr., who retired on July 31 after more than 33 years of active military service, and to Stanley R. Resor, Under Secretary of the Army. During his remarks he referred to General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Clifton served as Military Aide to the President from January 1961 until his retirement. His letter requesting release from his assignment and the President’s reply granting the request were made public by the White House on July 10. The text of the citation follows:

"Major General Chester V. Clifton, Jr., distinguished himself by eminently meritorious servicewhile serving in positions of great responsibility from March 1957 to July 1965. During this period, General Clifton served concurrently as Deputy Chief of Public Information, Office of the Secretary of the Army and as Deputy Chief of Information, Office of the Chief of Staff, United States Army; and then as Military Aide to the President of the United States. General Clifton fulfilled sensitive, grave and difficult responsibilities with outstanding effectiveness during a period characterized by recurrent crises throughout the globe. In his highly sensitive and unique position as the Military Aide to the President, General Clifton demonstrated integrity, imaginative resourcefulness and an innate intellectual courage. General Clifton’s performance of duty was characterized by personal qualities of courtesy, consideration for others and cooperativeness. He carried out his important duties as Defense Liaison Officer with a most sensitive appreciation of the needs and viewpoints of the Secretary of Defense and of all the services. His mature judgment, basic knowledge and professional talents contributed to the achievement of results desired by the President. General Clifton’s distinguished performance of duty is in the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the military service."

Also on July 10 the White House announced that General Clifton’s successor would be Maj. James U. Cross, USAF.

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Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "399 Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to MAJ. GEN. C. v. Clifton, Jr.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1168 824–825. Original Sources, accessed February 9, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N2R4XZGZPPT3NJ.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "399 Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to MAJ. GEN. C. v. Clifton, Jr." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1168, pp. 824–825. Original Sources. 9 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N2R4XZGZPPT3NJ.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '399 Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to MAJ. GEN. C. v. Clifton, Jr.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1168, pp.824–825. Original Sources, retrieved 9 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N2R4XZGZPPT3NJ.