The Kennedy Detail
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Monday, July 25, 2011

A legacy of service: Robert Roy Faison Jr.

The Daily Herald

The United States knows Robert Roy Faison Jr. as the first black man assigned permanently to White House Detail.

In Seaboard, the former Coates High School graduate is remembered as a humble but strong man that wasn’t defined simply as the son of hardworking, sharecropping parents.

Known as “Bob” to family and friends, he died June 28 and will be buried next month in Arlington National Cemetery.

A 25-year United States Secret Service veteran who retired with the rank of Inspector, Bob provided personal protection service for United States Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

He retired in 1982, although his love for the Secret Service kept him working as a contractor for 10 more years.

Deputy Director of the U.S. Secret Service Keith Prewitt said Bob conducted part of his own background investigation. Prewitt described Bob as an outstanding role model and professional who was always easy to speak to and very good at coaching and mentoring.

“He was committed and engaged, but quietly competent,” Prewitt said. “He meant a lot to all of us.”

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Gerald S. Blaine, former Secret Service agent and author of “The Kennedy Detail,” published by Simon and Schuster in November, said Bob joined the White House Detail in late 1963 and shared a shift with him.

“We were on the midnight shift when President Kennedy was in Fort Worth the night before the assassination,” Blaine said. “We flew to Austin where the president was to stay at LBJ’s ranch on the night of the 22nd. After the assassination, Bob and I were assigned to LBJ.”

Blaine said the Secret Service White House Detail was very select in approving agents for permanent duty.

Most agents, including Bob, did a 30-day assignment.

“At the end of the assignment, the agents would report any weaknesses in the individual that might preclude him for a permanent assignment,” Blaine said. “Bob was unanimously selected.”

Blaine said Bob’s inclusion on the Secret Service was not embraced by everyone outside the service.

He describes an incident in his book about Bob being requested to stay at another hotel that allowed blacks since the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth did not.

“The agents threatened to move President Kennedy to another hotel if Bob was not allowed to stay,” Blaine said. “The hotel finally allowed Bob to stay.”   

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Robert Roy Faison Jr. is seen at age 21 shortly before heading off to the Korean War. He is a former Seaboard resident and Coates High School graduate
Robert Roy Faison Jr. takes the lead, walking out front of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s car. Faison, who died June 28, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next month.
Robert Roy Faison Jr., back left, stands in guard of President John F. Kennedy, third from right, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, center, during a White House event.

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