President Ford survives second assassination attempt

President Ford survives second assassination attempt


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On September 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore aims a gun at President Gerald Ford as he leaves the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California. The attempt on the president’s life came only 17 days after another woman had tried to assassinate Ford while he was on his way to give a speech to the California legislature in Sacramento.

Moore’s attempt was thwarted by a bystander, Oliver Sipple, who instinctively grabbed Moore’s arm when she raised the gun. She was able to fire off one shot, but it failed to find its target. Secret Service agents quickly hustled Ford into a waiting vehicle and sped him to safety.

On September 5, 1975, in Sacramento, California, a woman named Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme had also attempted to shoot Ford. Fromme, a drug-addled Charles Manson cult follower, and Moore, a mentally unstable former FBI informant and accountant who fell into fringe revolutionary politics, both targeted Ford as a symbol of their hatred for the political establishment.

Moore served time in the same prison in West Virginia as Fromme. Fromme escaped the prison in 1979, but was caught and transferred to a higher-security facility. Moore escaped in 1989, but turned herself in two days later and, like Fromme, was transferred to a more secure penitentiary. On December 31, 2007, Moore was released on parole.

Sipple received a written letter of thanks form Ford. Later, some critics claimed that the White House initially hesitated to publicly thank Sipple, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, because he was gay.


20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts

A concise and seemingly simple means to remove an individual stymieing one&rsquos own objectives, the orchestrated murder of a prominent individual is a recurrent feature throughout history. Motivated by many potential reasons, spanning politics, money, revenge, or simply insanity, from Julius Caesar to John F. Kennedy the assassination of a leading figure can produce a ripple effect changing history forever. However, not all such attempts achieve the outcome desired, with the individual, whether through luck, fortitude, or incompetence, surviving the effort to terminate their existence and affecting the course of history just as much as if it had succeeded.

&ldquoThe Assassination of Julius Caesar&rdquo, by Vincenzo Camuccini (c. 1804). Wikimedia Commons.

Here are 20 important historical figures who survived assassination attempts:

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (c. 1981). Wikimedia Commons.

20. President Ronald Reagan was the victim of an assassination attempt in 1981, motivated by John Hinckley Jr&rsquos delusional belief that it would impress actress Jodie Foster

Ronald Reagan (b. 1911) was an actor and politician who served as the 33rd Governor of California before becoming the 40th President of the United States. Remembered for his strict adherence to &ldquosupply-side&rdquo economic policies, dubbed &ldquoReaganomics&rdquo, as well as for an aggressive foreign policy against the Soviet Union, Reagan won re-election in 1984 with the largest majority in history via the Electoral College. Soon after his inauguration in 1981, Reagan was the victim of an assassination attempt at the hands of John Hinckley Jr. Suffering from erotomania, Hinckley had developed a delusional obsession with Jodie Foster and believed killing the president would impress the young actress.

On March 30, 1981, Reagan delivered a luncheon address at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Whilst exiting the building en route to the presidential limousine, Reagan passed within meters of Hinckley who opened fire with a Röhm RG-14 .22 LR revolver. Firing six shots in just 1.7 seconds, although Hinckley missed the president with all of them the sixth bullet ricocheted off the armored limousine and penetrated the president under the left arm. Grazing his rib and lodging in his lung, the bullet stopped less than an inch from his heart. Ultimately recovering from his injuries and resuming presidential duties on April 11, Hinckley was sentenced to a psychiatric facility and released only in 2016.


Background: First Assassination Attempt

Assassination Attempts on Presidents

  • 1865: Lincoln
  • 1881: Garfield
  • 1901: McKinley
  • 1950: Truman
  • 1963: Kennedy
  • 1981: Reagan

The first attempt on Ford&rsquos life took place on Sept. 5 in Sacramento, Calif., as he was walking across a large lawn to the California Capitol. Lynette &ldquoSqueaky&rdquo Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, pulled out a .45 caliber pistol and attempted to shoot the president, but the pistol did not fire.

Fromme was given a life sentence, but she was released in August 2009 after serving more than 30 years in prison.


Abraham Lincoln, 1861

Abraham Lincoln's murder at Ford's Theatre at the close of the Civil War was one of the most tragic moments in United States history. However, Smithsonian points out that it wasn't the first time someone tried to assassinate the man who would one day be known as "the Great Emancipator." In 1860, the election of a known abolitionist to the White House was a source of massive controversy, causing tensions between the Northern and Southern states to reach a fever pitch. President-elect Lincoln was due to assume the presidency in early 1861, and after a touching farewell to his home state of Illinois, he hopped on a train to Washington, with a scheduled stopover in Baltimore. What Lincoln didn't realize was that in Baltimore a man named Cypriano Ferrandini (and at least one associate) was planning to murder him.

Luckily, the terrorist plot was sussed out by police detective Allan Pinkerton, who warned the Lincoln family. Lincoln wanted to stop in Baltimore anyway, but his wife convinced him to skip it, leading to the Lincoln family hiding out in Washington's Willard Hotel, as pictured above, until Lincoln was finally inaugurated on March 4.


A Halloween Massacre at the White House

In the fall of 1975, President Gerald Ford was finding trouble wherever he turned. He’d been in office just over a year, but he remained “acutely aware” that he was the only person in U.S. history to become the chief executive without being elected. His pardon of Richard Nixon, whose resignation after the Watergate scandal had put Ford in the White House, was still controversial. Democratic voters had turned out in droves in the congressional midterm elections, taking 49 seats from the Republicans and significantly increasing their party’s majority in the House. Now the presidential election was just a year away, and popular California Governor Ronald Reagan was poised to challenge Ford for the GOP nomination.

But his political troubles were only the beginning. On September 5, 1975, Ford spoke at the California state capitol in Sacramento. He was walking toward a crowd in a park across the street when a woman in a red robe stepped forward and pointed a Colt semi-automatic pistol at him. Secret Service Agent Larry Buendorf spotted the gun, leaped in front of Ford and wrestled Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the Charles Manson family, to the ground before she could fire.

On September 22, Ford was at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco when a five-time divorcee named Sara Jane Moore fired a .38 caliber revolver at him from across the street. Her shot missed the president’s head by several feet before Oliver Sipple, a former Marine standing in the crowd, tackled her.

And on the evening of October 14, Ford’s motorcade was in Hartford, Connecticut, when a 19-year-old named James Salamites accidentally smashed his lime-green 1968 Buick into the president’s armored limousine. Ford was uninjured but shaken. The car wreck was emblematic of the chaos he was facing.

Gerald Ford meets with vice president Nelson Rockefeller months before he asked Rockefeller to withdraw from the ticket. (Wikipedia)

Back in Washington, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller represented a problem. Ford had appointed him in August of 1974 mainly because the former governor of New York was seen to be free from any connections to Watergate. The president had assured Rockefeller that he would be a “full partner” in his administration, particularly in domestic policy, but from the start, the White House chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, and his deputy Dick Cheney worked to neutralize the man they viewed as a New Deal economic liberal.  They isolated him to the point where Rockefeller, when asked what he was allowed to do as vice president, said, “I go to funerals. I go to earthquakes.” Redesigning the vice presidential seal, he said, was “the most important thing I’ve done.”

With the 1976 election looming, there were grumblings from the more conservative Ford staffers that Rockefeller was too old and too liberal, that he was a “commuting” vice president who was more at home in New York, that Southerners would not support a ticket with him on it in the primaries, especially against Reagan. To shore up support on the right, Rumsfeld and Cheney, who had already edged out some of the president’s old aides, helped to persuade Ford to dump Rockefeller.

On October 28, Ford met with Rockefeller and made it clear that he wanted the vice president to remove himself from the ticket. “I didn’t take myself off the ticket,” Rockefeller would later tell friends. “He asked me to do it.” The next day, Ford gave a speech denying federal aid to spare the City of New York from bankruptcy—aid Rockefeller had lobbied for. The decision—immortalized in the New York Daily News headline, “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD”—was yet another indication of Rockefeller’s waning influence.  In haste and some anger, he wrote Ford a letter saying he was withdrawing as a candidate for vice president.

That wasn’t the only shakeup within Ford’s administration. Bryce Harlow, a former Nixon adviser, lobbyist and outside adviser to the president, noted the appearance of “internal anarchy” among the Nixon holdovers at the White House and the cabinet, particularly among Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby. Kissinger was particularly incensed over Colby’s testimony in congressional hearings on CIA activities. “Every time Bill Colby gets near Capitol Hill, the damn fool feels an irresistible urge to confess to some horrible crime,” Kissinger snarled.

Harlow met with Ford’s White House staff, known to Kissinger as the “kitchen cabinet,” and the problem was quickly apparent to him, too. He advised Ford, “You have to fire them all.”

In what became known as the Halloween Massacre, Ford nearly did just that. On November 3, 1975, the president announced that Rockefeller had withdrawn from the ticket and that George H.W. Bush had replaced William Colby as director of the CIA. Schlesinger, too, was out, to be replaced by Rumsfeld. Kissinger would remain secretary of state, but Brent Scowcroft would replace him as national security adviser. And Cheney would replace Rumsfeld, becoming, at age 34, the youngest chief of staff in White House history.

Ford in the Oval Office with his golden retriever, Liberty, in 1974 (Wikipedia)

Ford intended the moves as both a show of independence and a bow to his party’s right wing in advance of his primary fight against Reagan. Though advisors agreed that Kissinger’s outsized role in foreign policy made Ford appear less presidential, many observers viewed the shakeup as a blatant power grab engineered by Rumsfeld.

Rockefeller was one of them. Still vice president, he warned Ford, “Rumsfeld wants to be president of the United States. He has given George Bush the deep six by putting him in the CIA, he has gotten me out.… He was third on your list and now he has gotten rid of two of us.… You are not going to be able to put him on the because he is defense secretary, but he is not going to want anybody who can possibly be elected with you on that ticket.… I have to say I have a serious question about his loyalty to you.”

The Republican presidential primaries were as bruising as predicted, but conservatives were infuriated when Reagan promised to name “liberal” Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate in a move designed to attract centrists. Ford won the nomination, narrowly. After Reagan made it clear that he would never accept the vice presidency, Ford selected Kansas Senator Bob Dole as his running mate in 1976, but the sagging economy and the fallout from the Nixon pardon enabled the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, the former Georgia governor, to win a close race.

At the time, Ford said he alone was responsible for the Halloween Massacre. Later, he expressed regret: “I was angry at myself for showing cowardice in not saying to the ultraconservatives, ‘It’s going to be Ford and Rockefeller, whatever the consequences.’ ” And years later, he said, “It was the biggest political mistake of my life. And it was one of the few cowardly things I did in my life.”

Articles: “Behind the Shake-up: Ford Tightens Grip,” by Godfrey Sperling Jr., Christian Science Monitor, November 4, 1975. “Ford’s Narrowing Base,” by James Reston, New York Times, November 7, 1975. “Enough is Enough” by Tom Braden, Washington Post, November 8. 1975.  “A No-Win Position” by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Washington Post, November 8, 1975.  “Context of ‘November 4, 1975 and After: Halloween Massacre’ Places Rumsfeld, Cheney in Power,” History Commons, http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a11041975halloween.  “Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, 41st Vice President (1974-1977)” United States Senate,  http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_Nelson_Rockefeller.htm.  “The Long March of Dick Cheney,” by Sidney Blumenthal, Salon, November 24, 2005. “Infamous ‘Drop Dead’ ” Was Never Said by Ford,” by Sam Roberts, New York Times, December 28, 2006.

Books: Timothy J. Sullivan, New York State and the Rise of Modern Conservatism: Redrawing Party Lines, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2009.  Jussi Hanhimaki, The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, Oxford University Press, 2004. Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography, Simon & Schuster, 1992.


President Gerald Ford Survived First Assassination Attempt (September 5, 1975)

This week (September 1-7) in crime history: Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason (September 1, 1807) Jean-Paul Akayesu was found guilty of genocide in Rwanda (September 2, 1998) Russian school siege ends in bloody shootout (September 3, 2004) Columbian rebels attack military base (September 4, 1996) Israeli athletes were taken hostage at the Munich Olympics (September 5, 1972) President Gerald Ford survives attempted assassination (September 5, 1975) Drew Peterson was convicted of murdering his 3 rd wife (September 6, 2012) South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated (September 6, 1966) President William McKinley was shot (September 6, 1901) Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot (September 7, 1996) Guillame Apollinaire was arrested for stealing the Mona Lisa (September 7, 1911) The James Gang was nearly wiped out in Northfield Minnesota (September 7, 1876).

Highlighted Crime of the Week -

On September 1, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford survives an attempt on his life in Sacramento, California. The assailant, Lynette Fromme, approached the president while he was walking near the California State Capitol and raised a .45 caliber handgun toward him. Before she was able to fire off a shot, Secret Service agents tackled her and wrestled her to the ground. After the assassination attempt, Ford stoically continued on to the Capitol to speak before the California legislature. The main topic of his speech was crime. Seventeen days later, another woman, Sarah Jane Moore, tried to assassinate Ford while he was in San Francisco. Her attempt was thwarted by a bystander who instinctively grabbed Moore's arm when she raised the gun. Although she fired one shot, it did not find its target.

Lynette Fromme, nicknamed "Squeaky," was a member of the notorious Charles Manson family. Manson and other members of his "family" were convicted and sentenced to prison for murdering former actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969. Subsequently, Fromme and other female members of the cult started an order of "nuns" within a new group called the International People's Court of Retribution. This group terrorized corporate executives who headed environmentally destructive businesses. Fromme herself was still so enamored of Manson that she devised the plot to kill President Ford in order to win Manson's approval.

Fromme was convicted of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison in West Virginia. She escaped in 1979, but was caught within 25 miles of the prison. Strangely, Ford's second would-be assassin, Moore, was imprisoned in the same facility and escaped in 1989. She turned herself in two days later and, like Fromme, was transferred to a higher-security penitentiary. Both women were eventually released on parole.


The Sad Story of the Marine Who Saved President Ford from Assassination

Gerald Ford might be one of the luckiest politicians in American history. As a Navy veteran of World War II and a 25-year Republican congressman from Michigan, he had all the makings of a president of the United States. But as vice president and then president, he's the only person who held those offices without ever winning an election to either.

He is also so lucky that he survived two assassination attempts in the same month. The first attempt failed because the gun didn't fire. The second failed because there was a United States Marine in the audience that day.

Oliver Sipple, the Marine Corps veteran who saved the president, wasn't quite so lucky.

Ford's highest career aspiration was to one day become speaker of the House. He never sought any higher office, though he was head-hunted to become a governor and senator on many occasions. Being known as the "Congressman's Congressman," he won a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle and was well-regarded by all.

Ford eventually became the Republican minority leader, but Democrats at the time had a firm grip on the House. In his mind, becoming speaker of the House was not in the cards.

So when then-Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign his office after being indicted for tax evasion, the White House invoked the 25th Amendment to fill the VP spot for the first time. This meant picking a candidate who had to be confirmed by both houses of Congress -- which forced President Richard Nixon to nominate someone who wouldn’t create too much controversy. So he picked the affable, likable Gerald Ford,

Ford thought ending his political career as vice president would do just as well as being speaker of the House, so he accepted and was sworn in in December 1973. In 1974, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon's resignation, and Ford moved into the Oval Office.

Ford's 895-day term may have been the shortest for any president who didn't die in office, but it nearly came to an end much earlier. On Sept. 5, 1975, a Manson family cult member named Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme tried to shoot Ford with an M1911 pistol as he entered the California state capitol building in Sacramento.

The president survived because Fromme didn't have a round in the chamber. The story was much different 17 days later, when Ford survived another attack. This time, the would-be assassin was Sara Jane Moore, a housewife from West Virginia. Moore saw killing Ford as a way to foment social upheaval.

Unlike Ford, luck was not on Moore's side. The day before her attempt, police seized the illegal .44 pistol she would have used to kill the president. She found a new one, a .38 revolver, and made her way to the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. That's where she took aim and fired at the president as he left the hotel -- but the bullet went wide right and missed.

Sipple, a Marine Corps veteran who was wounded by shrapnel during two tours in Vietnam, was also in the crowd of 3,000 that day. Close to Moore, he heard and saw the gun go off. When she missed, he fought the crowd over about 40 feet to where Moore was taking aim for another shot.

Sipple grabbed Moore's arm as she fired. The bullet ricocheted on the pavement, hitting a bystander (who survived). Secret Service agents wrestled Moore to the ground and took her into custody.

It wasn't long before the media found out that the president's savior was a combat-wounded Marine who had served in Vietnam. He was the hero of the day, but Sipple wanted none of the media attention.

He even told a reporter that night, "I'm no hero or nothing. I don't know why I did it. It was the thing to do at the time."

Sipple, it turned out, was gay, and San Francisco was the only city a somewhat-openly gay man could live at that time. His family had no idea. When the media spotlight hit him, it wasn't long before the world found out.

The man who saved the president of the United States was a close associate of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who also lived in San Francisco at the time. According to a WNYC Radiolab Podcast about the assassination attempt, it was Milk who outed Sipple to the media.

The square-jawed, strong Marine veteran did not fit the public image of a gay man in America. Milk wanted to change that public image "from pedophiles and perverts" to include men like Sipple.

Except Sipple did not want to be outed, and the story of the homosexual hero who saved President Ford was soon in his hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press. Sipple relatives were inundated by reporters, and their church began to question its relationship with the family.

It wasn't long before the family cut all ties with Sipple.

When he returned to the White House, Ford wrote a heartfelt and public letter as a thank you to Sipple, but the damage was done. Sipple filed a $15 million lawsuit against various national newspapers, but after nine years of litigation, the California Supreme Court threw it out because his defense of the president made him a public figure that day.

Sipple soon began to struggle with alcoholism and mental issues. A 100%-disabled veteran, he had had no problems with either until he saved the president that day.

The hero's life ended in 1989, when he was found dead in his San Francisco apartment, next to a bottle of bourbon. He had been dead for weeks. His letter of thanks from President Ford was framed on his wall.


September 22, 1975: President Ford survives second assassination attempt

The word ‘assassination’ is an interesting one (NB I taught linguistics for 15 years at university so I find everything about language fascinating). It stems from a rather unique set of historical events a long time ago. From 1090 to 1275 a group of Shia Muslim fanatics known as the Asasiyun (Arabic for “those who adhere to the foundation”, i.e. of the faith) carried out a reign of terror across a wide swath of what we now call the Middle East. What they did was effectively ‘assassinate’ people, including some senior ones. This is clearly terrorism in practice, more specifically religiously-motivated. Note that the belief that the term ‘assassin’ comes from the word ‘hashish’, with the corollary that the killers were high when they acted, is false and comes perhaps from Marco Polo.

Assassination as a tactic is of course a well-known phenomenon, carried out in many places at many times. To qualify as ‘assassination’, however, in common parlance the victim has to be famous (or infamous I suppose): the murder of an average Joe would not rank as an example.

As a matter of fact presidents are famous (and sometimes infamous as many would see the current placeholder in the US) and there have been three instances of assassination of American presidents: Abraham Lincoln (in 1865), William McKinley (by an anarchist, in 1901) and John F. Kennedy (in 1963). There have also been several failed attempts, including an event that occurred on this day in 1975.

It was during the short presidential term of Gerald Ford, who had taken over in the wake of the resignation of Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal, that Sara Jane Moore, an apparent fan of Patty Hearst (I mentioned her in a recent blog), fired a gun at him in San Francisco. Interestingly, Mr. Ford had survived another assassination try a mere 17 days earlier, that time in another California city, Sacramento. Ms. Moore did get one shot off that missed its mark and her second attempt was thwarted by a bystander, former Marine and Vietnam vet Oliver Sipple, who instinctively grabbed Moore’s arm when she raised the gun. She was sentenced to life in prison but managed to escape in 1979, only to turn herself in two days later: she was paroled in 2007.

Why did Ms. Moore try to kill President Ford? She was a volunteer bookkeeper for an organisation known as People in Need (PIN) created by Patty Hearst’s father Randolph to address allegations that he was ‘committing crimes against the people’. This would put her act squarely in the ‘ideological’ framework.

A few years after this event Ronald Reagan was shot as well and survived. I cannot think of any other similar attempt since then offhand. Then again I would not dismiss future incidents: assassins become famous – or infamous – after all.


Gerald Ford survived second assassination attempt 45 years ago

During his brief presidency, Gerald Ford was the target of two assassination attempts, the second coming 45 years ago on Sept. 22, 1975, in San Francisco.

Sara Jane Moore fired two shots at Ford, both of which missed. Ford was in the Bay Area, attending a World Affairs Council meeting.

Only 17 days earlier, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a disciple of convicted murderer Charles Manson, pointed an unloaded gun at Ford in Sacramento, California, when the president was little more than arm’s length away. Fromme would spend 34 years in prison and was released Aug. 14, 2009, more than two years after Ford’s death.

Moore had been evaluated by the Secret Service in 1975, but agents decided she posed no danger to the president. She was detained by police on an illegal handgun charge the day before the assassination attempt but was released. The police confiscated her .44 caliber revolver and 113 rounds of ammunition.

At 3:30 p.m., after speaking to the World Affairs Council, Ford emerged from the Post Street entrance of the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, then walked toward his limousine. Before boarding the vehicle, he stopped and waved to the crowd that had gathered across the street.

Moore was standing in the crowd 40 feet away from Ford when she fired two shots with her .38 Special revolver. The first shot missed Ford’s head by 5 inches and passed through the wall above the doorway Ford had just walked through.

Bystander Oliver Sipple heard the sound of the first shot and dove at Moore, grabbing her shooting arm before she pulled the trigger a second time. The second shot struck John Ludwig, a 42-year-old taxi driver standing inside the hotel. He survived.

San Francisco Police Capt. Timothy Hettrich grabbed Moore and wrested the gun from her hand. Many other officers immediately joined in, while Ford’s Secret Service team pushed him into his waiting limousine where the Secret Service and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld covered him.

The limousine raced to San Francisco International Airport, where Ford boarded Air Force One and, after being joined by the first lady, flew back to Washington.

Moore pleaded guilty to charges of attempted assassination on Dec. 12, 1975, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. On Dec. 31, 2007, at 77, Moore was released on parole.


The Sad Story of the Marine Who Saved President Ford from Assassination

Gerald Ford might be one of the luckiest politicians in American history. As a Navy veteran of World War II and a 25-year Republican congressman from Michigan, he had all the makings of a president of the United States. But as vice president and then president, he’s the only person who held those offices without ever winning an election to either.

He is also so lucky that he survived two assassination attempts in the same month. The first attempt failed because the gun didn’t fire. The second failed because there was a United States Marine in the audience that day.

Oliver Sipple, the Marine Corps veteran who saved the president, wasn’t quite so lucky.

Ford’s highest career aspiration was to one day become speaker of the House. He never sought any higher office, though he was head-hunted to become a governor and senator on many occasions. Being known as the “Congressman’s Congressman,” he won a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle and was well-regarded by all.

Ford eventually became the Republican minority leader, but Democrats at the time had a firm grip on the House. In his mind, becoming speaker of the House was not in the cards.

So when then-Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign his office after being indicted for tax evasion, the White House invoked the 25th Amendment to fill the VP spot for the first time. This meant picking a candidate who had to be confirmed by both houses of Congress — which forced President Richard Nixon to nominate someone who wouldn’t create too much controversy. So he picked the affable, likable Gerald Ford,

Ford thought ending his political career as vice president would do just as well as being speaker of the House, so he accepted and was sworn in in December 1973. In 1974, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon’s resignation, and Ford moved into the Oval Office.

Ford’s 895-day term may have been the shortest for any president who didn’t die in office, but it nearly came to an end much earlier. On Sept. 5, 1975, a Manson family cult member named Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme tried to shoot Ford with an M1911 pistol as he entered the California state capitol building in Sacramento.

The president survived because Fromme didn’t have a round in the chamber. The story was much different 17 days later, when Ford survived another attack. This time, the would-be assassin was Sara Jane Moore, a housewife from West Virginia. Moore saw killing Ford as a way to foment social upheaval.

Unlike Ford, luck was not on Moore’s side. The day before her attempt, police seized the illegal .44 pistol she would have used to kill the president. She found a new one, a .38 revolver, and made her way to the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. That’s where she took aim and fired at the president as he left the hotel — but the bullet went wide right and missed.

Sipple, a Marine Corps veteran who was wounded by shrapnel during two tours in Vietnam, was also in the crowd of 3,000 that day. Close to Moore, he heard and saw the gun go off. When she missed, he fought the crowd over about 40 feet to where Moore was taking aim for another shot.

Sipple grabbed Moore’s arm as she fired. The bullet ricocheted on the pavement, hitting a bystander (who survived). Secret Service agents wrestled Moore to the ground and took her into custody.

It wasn’t long before the media found out that the president’s savior was a combat-wounded Marine who had served in Vietnam. He was the hero of the day, but Sipple wanted none of the media attention.

He even told a reporter that night, “I’m no hero or nothing. I don’t know why I did it. It was the thing to do at the time.”

Sipple, it turned out, was gay, and San Francisco was the only city a somewhat-openly gay man could live at that time. His family had no idea. When the media spotlight hit him, it wasn’t long before the world found out.

The man who saved the president of the United States was a close associate of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who also lived in San Francisco at the time. According to a WNYC Radiolab Podcast about the assassination attempt, it was Milk who outed Sipple to the media.

The square-jawed, strong Marine veteran did not fit the public image of a gay man in America. Milk wanted to change that public image “from pedophiles and perverts” to include men like Sipple.

Except Sipple did not want to be outed, and the story of the homosexual hero who saved President Ford was soon in his hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press. Sipple relatives were inundated by reporters, and their church began to question its relationship with the family.

It wasn’t long before the family cut all ties with Sipple.

When he returned to the White House, Ford wrote a heartfelt and public letter as a thank you to Sipple, but the damage was done. Sipple filed a $15 million lawsuit against various national newspapers, but after nine years of litigation, the California Supreme Court threw it out because his defense of the president made him a public figure that day.

Sipple soon began to struggle with alcoholism and mental issues. A 100%-disabled veteran, he had had no problems with either until he saved the president that day.

The hero’s life ended in 1989, when he was found dead in his San Francisco apartment, next to a bottle of bourbon. He had been dead for weeks. His letter of thanks from President Ford was framed on his wall.


20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran (c. 1979). Wikimedia Commons.

5. A figure of significant opposition, the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, faced multiple attempts on his life before ultimately fleeing the country in 1979 into permanent exile

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, reigned as the last Shah of Iran from 1941 until his deposition during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Succeeding his father after the Anglo-Soviet invasion compelled the former&rsquos abdication, Mohammad Reza sought to rapidly modernize his nation into a global power, instituting an array of political, economic, and social reforms that lost him the support of the religious clergy and traditionalists. A figure of controversy from his earliest days as Shah, Mohammad Reza was the target of at least two assassination attempts during his reign.

On February 4, 1949, the Shah suffered his first assassination effort, attacked whilst attending an annual ceremony to commemorate the founding of Tehran University in 1851. Believed to have been a member of the Tudeh Party &ndash the Iranian communist organization that was subsequently banned after the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh &ndash Fakhr-Arai opened fire upon the monarch. Discharging five rounds from a range of three meters, only one hit the Shah, grazing his cheek, whilst Fakhr-Arai was shot dead by security officers. Recent years have questioned his communist affiliations, instead placing blame on the religious organization Fada&rsquoiyan-e Islam.


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    STUDENT YOUNG

  5. Redmond

    Of course. This was and with me. We can communicate on this topic.



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