BOSTON (CBS) – Paul Kelly spent most of his adult life serving his country and protecting American leaders, but there was one who stood out. He says President George H.W. Bush treated him like family. “Secret Service had got to the point where there was such a bond and a commitment that was mutual,” Kelly said.
After Vietnam, Kelly left Weymouth and joined the Secret Service. His first big assignment was to go with Ambassador Bush to China, because Kelly was fluent in Mandarin.
He brought Barbara with him and his Cocker Spaniel, C. Fred Bush. “At that time it was pretty much acknowledged that that was the only domesticated dog in China,” Kelly said.
Kelly served five presidents, but it was the Bush family and their kindness that touched him most. “They were sincere, they were outgoing and they were very considerate of everybody,” Kelly said.
In the summer, when the president got on his boat, Kelly was designated as the “swimmer” should something happen. “His hat fell in the water one day,” Kelly said. “He says, ‘Kelly are you going to get that?’ I said I don’t do windows and I don’t do hats. So then I reached over with a gaff hook and I got the hat.”
After over 20 years at the Secret Service, Kelly has long since retired. On Wednesday, he had to turn down an invitation to the Bush service for medical reasons, but watching on TV, he said “George was mission-oriented and he wants to complete his mission. I think he did that today.”