Protecting The President: Giving the “All Clear”
Happy Inauguration Day! Today America ushers in its 45th President Donald J. Trump. Congratulations and welcome to the highest position in the land, which is protected by the Secret Service. So with all of the talk about security in Washington, D.C. for today’s peaceful transition of power, Leadville Today is sharing this 2007 edition of In The Ville about Protecting the President. May everyone stay safe today – God Bless America!
Uncle Angie Gives the Final “All Clear”
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
In the security profession it’s called sweeping the area. This activity is performed by Secret Service agents before public events that the President of the United States is attending.
It allows the agents to minimize any security breaches in an open, uncontrolled space. After an area has been “swept,” the secret service will give the “all clear” allowing for the VIP’s arrival. For most of Gerald Ford’s presidency, the man who swept the area and guarded the 38th man in the White House was Albert Angelone, also known as my Uncle Angie.
Uncle Angie was not a blood relative but rather a good friend of my father’s. They served together in the Army, and afterwards were college buddies at Adelphia University back east. He joined the Secret Service in 1968, beginning his legendary 21-year career of protecting presidents, and catching counterfeiters. To this day, he is still touted as one of the premier undercover agents in the Secret Service, having served two presidents: Ford and Jimmy Carter.
In 1975, Alberta Angelone was assigned to protect President Ford. It wasn’t long before Uncle Angie’s keen training and experience would be put to the test, saving Ford’s life and perhaps changing the course of history. In September 1975 during a visit to San Francisco there was an attempt on President Ford’s life. While most were ducking for cover, Uncle Angie stands front and center in front of Ford’s limousine in this historic photo. He is scanning the crowd for the assassin, pulling his weapon in case of a second shot.
While these pictures are proudly displayed in Ford’s Presidential Library in Michigan, there are no pictures of Uncle Angie in our family album. As you can imagine, a man like this did not mug for the camera. But in the absence of pictures there are stories, the ones my dad tells about my Uncle Angie.
One of my favorites is about when Angie took up playing squash with all the Ivy League boys when he returned from the service. Later my dad asked how he was faring in the squash tournament. “He’s at the top of the league,” stated a fellow squash player, an answer my dad thought curious knowing that the sport was not exactly his game.
“Well, he scares the shit out of them!” It seems Angie would get in that enclosed squash court and start to act like the wild New Yorker that he was; his opponents would shy away from the play. The preppy competitors would just stand there, petrified, as Angie racked up points.
Eventually I would have my own Uncle Angie story to tell. It was 1985 and I was covering the World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. I was hanging out by the entry to the VIP tent, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone newsworthy.
Before long, a massive security detail surrounding some VIP came scurrying by. It was First Lady Betty Ford!
“Excuse me, Mrs. Ford!” I called out. “Can I get a picture?!”
No one flinched. It was as if I had said nothing at all. “Excuse me, please Mrs. Ford a picture?” And then just before the entourage slipped into the VIP tent, I shouted: “My Uncle is Angie Angelone!”
The entire assemblage came to a screeching halt. Within seconds they discussed the situation and headed in my direction. I was allowed to take a picture of Betty Ford and we briefly discussed my Uncle Angie. Mrs. Ford was incredibly friendly, exchanging the kind of niceties you would to a person who knew the man who protected your family for years.
Not only was Mrs. Ford gracious but the entire Secret Service detail was as well. After all, Angie Angleone was a well-respected agent with a reputation for bravery, quick thinking and humor; he had probably trained some of these men. It was an incredible meeting and one of my favorite memories as a journalist.
My Uncle Angie passed away in July 2006 doing what he loved best: fishing on Martha’s Vineyard. After his passing, the daily news was increasingly sprinkled with reports of President Ford’s health. I couldn’t help but think that my Uncle was probably up there sweeping the area. On December 26, 2006, Uncle Angie, in one last act of service, gave the final “All Clear,” welcoming President Ford to his final resting place.