November 1, 1950 this man, Leslie W. Coffelt, gave his life in service to protect the President of the United States from an assassination attempt.
Two Puerto Rican nationalists, Collazo and Torresola, undertook to breach security at Blair House where President Truman resided at the time. Torresola approached Coffelt at his station and shot him three times, the wounds proving fatal. Torresola continued on his mission and shot two other agents, Donald Birdzell and Joseph Downs. Coffelt, who had a reputation as a marksman, managed to rise and fire one shot at the gunman, striking him in the ear and killing him instantly.*
"I was the only calm one in the house. You see, I've been shot at by experts and unless your name's on the bullet you needn't be afraid – and that of course you can't find out, so why worry." So said Harry Truman.
The three agents shot in this episode and Tim McCarthy, shot during the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life, are the only agents ever shot in presidential assassination attempts.
Collazo was convicted and sentenced to death. President Truman commuted the sentence to life in prison. President Carter more than two decades later commuted the sentence to time served. Collazo returned to Puerto Rico and died in 1994.
Leslie W. Coffelt 1910 - 1950 RIP
*Distance of shot, 31 feet.