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When bodyguards saved President Ronald Reagan’s life

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By Jide Ajani (with agency reports)

…And the Colonel U. K. Bello example
Whereas the Reagan assassination attempt occurred on Monday, March 30, 1981, just 69 days into his presidency, a certain Lieutenant Colonel U. K. Bello, the ADC to then military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, fought and died defending Dodan Barracks, Nigeria’s seat of power, and his boss on Tuesday, April 22, 1990.

When Gideon Gwarso Okar and his men stormed Dodan Barracks early that day, Bello, in collaboration with some more senior military officers, arranged to ferry President Babangida to safety.

A scene from the Reagan assassination attempt
A scene from the Reagan assassination attempt

It was while defending the seat of power and his boss that he lost his life.

In the case of Reagan, while leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., he and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr.  Reagan suffered a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly. At 2:27 pm Eastern Time as Reagan exited the hotel through “President’s Walk” and its T Street NW exit toward his waiting limousine, Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers.

While the Secret Service extensively screened those attending the president’s speech, in a “colossal mistake”, the agency allowed an unscreened group to stand within 15 ft (4.6 m) of him, behind a rope line. Unexpectedly, Reagan passed right in front of Hinckley. Knowing he would never get a better chance, Hinckley fired a Rohm RG-14 .22 cal. blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, missing the president with all six shots.

The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty, in the back of his neck as he turned to protect Reagan. Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president, but the third overshot him and hit the window of a building across the street.

As Special Agent In Charge, Jerry Parr quickly pushed Reagan into the limousine, the fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen as he spread his body over Reagan to make himself a target.

The fifth hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the limousine. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit the president in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly 1 in (25 mm) from his heart. Had Parr hesitated for a moment, the president would likely have been hit in the head.

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