Local Man Congratulated by JFK for Heroism (VIDEO)

By Eric Olson

December 24, 2013 Updated Dec 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - MOST DAYS YOU’LL FIND LARRY WILLIAMS AT FORT WAYNE’S MIDWEST FUNERAL HOME WHERE HE IS FUNERAL DIRECTOR BUT THIS UNASSUMING, DOWN-TO-EARTH MAN HAS A REMARKABLE STORY. FIFTY YEARS AGO LARRY WAS ON DUTY AS A CROSSING GUARD OUTSIDE HIS CENTERVILLE INDIANA JUNIOR HIGH WHEN AN OUT OF CONTROL CAR CAREENED TOWARD A GROUP OF KIDS HE WAS GUIDING ACROSS THE ROAD. WITHOUT THINKING LARRY SHOVED THE CHILDREN OUT OF THE CARS WAY, SAVING THEIR LIVES.

Larry: I just didn’t think anymore of it I just did my job that’s what I was there for.

TWO MONTHS LATER LARRY FOUND OUT HE WAS ONE OF EIGHT KIDS OUT OF 50-THOUSAND NOMINEES FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY, CHOSEN TO RECEIVE THE TRIPLE ‘A’ NATIONAL GOLD MEDAL FOR HEROISM, TO BE AWARDED TO HIM PERSONALLY BY PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY. IN MAY 1963 ALONG WITH THE SEVEN OTHER RECIPIENTS, 14 YEAR OLD LARRY WILLIAMS WAS STANDING IN THE WHITE HOUSE ROSE GARDEN WHERE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES PINNED HIS MEDAL ON HIS CHEST.

Larry: Total shock, just absolute total shock I mean my God this is President John Kennedy. I’m standing in front of President John Kennedy. In the picture I’m up against him and I made sure my arm was up against his arm I can still feel his arm.

WITH LARRY THAT DAY WERE INDIANA SENATORS BIRCH BAYH AND VANCE HARTKE, AND HIS PARENTS…BEAMING WITH PRIDE.

Larry: They were big democrats and big, big Kennedy admirers so the fact they got to meet John Kennedy of all people, they talked about it for a long time.

BARELY SIX MONTHS LATER JACK KENNEDY WAS SHOT DEAD IN DALLAS.

Larry: It just simply devastated me. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that I had just met the man months before and now he was gone. And I have to say Eric it’s devastating today. “You seem to be choking up a bit”. Yah, it’s devastating today. He was such a down to earth common type person to be the President of the United States and to treat us..I guess that’s what I remember most is the way we were treated. He just didn’t come out and say here’s a medal I got to go back to work, he stayed out there and talked to us. I got his autograph. I mean it would have been great no matter what President. But it just happened to be this President.

THE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN A CONSTANT IN LARRY WILLIAMS LIFE, SO IMPORTANT TO HIM HE’S RECORDED THE EVENT ON HIS HEADSTONE.

Larry: And on the back of it it says ‘Received the National Medal for Heroism from President John F. Kennedy May 9th, 1963 and then the one picture of him shaking hands with me was done in porcelain and it’s on the back of my stone. That’s how much it means to me, it’s on my headstone.

ERIC OLSON REPORTING, OUT IN 21 COUNTRY.




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