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Give and you Shall Receive…a Signature from Henry Kissinger

When Henry Kissinger became Secretary of State in September 1973, he declined the usual Diplomatic Security (DS) protective detail, preferring the protection of the Secret Service as he was already under its protection as the head of the National Security Council (NSC) and had a good relationship with the detail leader, Walter Bothe. His wife, Nancy, on the other hand, was quite satisfied with the DS agents attached to her detail. Bruce Tully, who was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning in July 2015, is a veteran of both the Secret Service and Diplomatic Security and was one of the agents on her detail.

One day, the Kissingers were having lunch at Vice President Nelson Rockefeller’s Washington estate. Nancy and Nelson’s families knew each other from New York, and Nancy was a long-time aide to Vice President Rockefeller. However, this lunch was a bit rockier than most.

Read Moments on embassy security and on Kissinger.


“Here’s the Secretary of State, HUGE presence in the world. And here’s this kid from Long Island standing there, literally just with him and his wife.”

TULLY: Nelson Rockefeller had his own private estate off of Foxhall Road in Northwest Washington. Beautiful and a very large wooded park-like setting. We motorcaded up there one Sunday afternoon for them to have lunch. (Photo: Washington Life)

It was a beautiful outdoor day and Henry and Nancy Kissinger are sitting right there. And it’s just the two of them. And we did a very low-key kind of protective posting — because you don’t want to intrude on your protectees unless you had to…

I am standing off to the corner and we’re watching the Secretary and his wife have a very nice lunch in this outdoor area, surrounded by the woods, very nice, very bucolic. And all of a sudden, I hear Nancy Kissinger raising her voice and saying, “Oh, Mr. Tully, Mr. Tully, could you come here?”

I said to myself –…”You know, what’s up? “And I’m a good 20 yards away.

So I walk up and as I’m walking I can see Mrs. Kissinger and Dr. Kissinger — Secretary Kissinger — having a little minor discussion.

Mrs. Kissinger said, “Mr. Tully, thank you,” and then she looks at Henry Kissinger and says, “Henry, ask Mr. Tully.”

Now, here’s the Secretary of State, HUGE presence in the world. And here’s this kid from Long Island standing there, literally just with him and his wife. And Henry mumbles something. And I didn’t say anything yet and Nancy Kissinger, who, thank goodness…, as with all of her agents, we had a very good relationship, she liked me and trusted me.

And she says, “Henry, ask Mr. Tully,” in a very short kind of voice.

And he looks up again from mumbling and he said in a low voice, “Gud-I — bluh-bluh, bluh-bluh-bluh.”

I said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Secretary, I didn’t hear you, sir.”

He said, “Can I borrow 10 dollars?”

And I — I was so taken aback, my first thought was did I have 10 dollars? Because in those days we didn’t carry a lot of money….

But I looked at the Secretary and with great sincerity I said, “Well, of course, Mr. Secretary. Paused and said “Would you like two fives or a 10?”

And he looked up rather hard at me. And he said, “Give me two fives.”

So I opened my wallet and I gave him the two fives. And the money was for a tip for the waiter on the VPs staff that was assisting them there. Mrs. K smiled and I went back to my post.

And I thought nothing of it really to myself but thought “I’ll never see that money again,” which was fine.

So I’m walking back, Nancy Kissinger says, “Thank you, Mr. Tully,”

So after a while they’re finished with lunch. We then get into our motorcade — a three-car package, the armored limo for them, the USSS [U.S. Secret Service] follow and our tail car. We kind of zipped back to their residence on Dumbarton Street. And when we got there, they retired, it was a row house, a townhouse.

And I then go down into our command post. I was working that day the 0700 – 1500 shift. And in the afternoon sometime, I don’t know, near 1500, the Secretary himself opens the door to the basement where our command posts were and starts to come down.

Now this starts a great commotion with the Secret Service, because he’s not supposed to “make a move,” and he had never come downstairs to our areas.

With that he continues down and says in what you might call a bit of a stern voice, “Vehr iz Tully?”

And I said to myself, very surprised, “Oh boy” and I get up.

“Right here, sir — right here, Mr. Secretary.”

“Here. Takes this, God blank it.”

And what it was, was an American Express traveler’s check for 10 dollars. To pay me back. And I looked at it, and it’s got his signature on it, and it’s an American Express 10-dollar check.

And I said, “Thank you, Mr. Secretary,” and he turned around and went back up the stairs. I still have that check. That is my souvenir for life. I still have that.