~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
President Johnson's Funeral Security Detail
22-25 January 1973

   Yes, I did participate in the funeral detail for LBJ. I have a certificate somewhere that was given to all participants by the 5th Army Headquarters.

   To the best of my recollection, responding to provide security for LBJ's funeral had been an Operations-Plan that rested within the numerous contingencies and missions assigned to the Battalion.  As you well remember, our involvement in Viet Nam was still a sour note to many American's.  Fears of demonstrations and civil disobedience was an ever present threat, especially when an event involved the architect for the unpopular war.  A funeral for an American President, or Ex-President for that matter,  would not have been a task that you would under normal circumstances, assign to the faint of heart.  Another fear was the appearance of the infamous "Streaker's" dashing at the most inopportune moment such as the play of Hail to the Chief.  The concerns were many, in addition to traffic control in some areas of Austin where the funeral took place.

   As a matter of SOP, the Battalion kept an Alert Force confined to the Barracks at Fort Hood, ready to respond to unusual enforcement problems.  This Alert Force was comprised of a reinforced platoon on a rotational basis within the three Battalion line companies.  The Alert Force was activated by the Provost Marshal Duty Officer.  In the case of the LBJ funeral, the Alert Force was the first responders.

   Again, to the best of my recollection, the 401st and the 411th MP Companies were ordered to leave Fort Hood late at night on the 22nd day of January.  To the credit of the members of the Battalion the confusion associated with any sudden deployment, was minimal. It was a miserable trip, cold and wet in those M151 Jeep's without heaters. The drivers wore woolen blankets and passengers were wrapped up in the good old mountain sleeping bags.

   At the time, my driver was SP/4 Buddy Murphy and SP/4 Camp traveled with us.  We arrived in Austin, Texas sometime past midnight in the early morning hours of the 23rd.  The 401st was quartered at Camp Mabry, Austin.  Camp Mabry is a Texas National Guard Armory and Headquarters for this organization. We were assigned to use the Officers Candidates School barracks for sleeping quarters and Command Post. I can not recall where the 410th and 411th MP Companies were.

   What I do remember was that the most fortunate tried to get some sleep as soon as we got to Camp Mabry, and the less fortunate were immediately deployed to perform other security duties.

   I know that as an NCO, I spent lots of time scheduling personnel and insuring that this event went as smooth as possible. I do remember having to send an eight men detail to the LBJ Memorial Library in Austin in Class A uniform to perform some Honor Guard duty. The weather was simply miserable as is typical of Texas during this time of the year. I do remember that at one point, the 411th MP Company was assigned to perform security duties inside the LBJ Ranch near Johnson City. I was informed that a Deuce-and-a-Half loaded with MPs went in the water, when one of the bridges inside the ranch collapsed as they were crossing over it. I do not remember the extend of their injuries, if any, since we were far from them in Austin.

   On the last day of the events, CPT Charles Buerschinger with a couple of platoons of MPs in full riot gear and I deployed in buses to LBJ’s final resting place near an old oak tree in the ranch cemetery on Highway 290. We stayed in the buses at a discreet distance monitoring the event. Then we were assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, placing traffic control points along the way. We stayed there for a few hours as a security reaction force until LBJ’s family and the other dignitaries departed. We then returned to Fort Hood to business as usual.

   The success of this mission reflected the competence and dedication to duty exhibited by our fine Officers, NCO’s and soldiers of the 720th MP Battalion of that era.

   SSG Fred “Scooby” Stevens, 401st MP Company, 720th MP Battalion, III Corps, 5th Army, Fort Hood, Texas, August1972- October 1974.

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