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Lem Johns, LBJ Bodyguard, Dies; Witness To JFK Assassination, Spattered With Paint In Australia

Lem Johns, the United States Secret Service agent who was spattered with paint during President Lyndon Johnson’s visit to Australia in 1966, has died, at the age of 88.

Johns, with his right hand raised, can be seen in the picture below on the right hand side of Johnson’s limousine. The incident occurred during a demonstration in Melbourne.


Johnson’s visit in October 1966 came just one month before the federal election of November 26. The election was conducted amidst vigorous public debate about Australia’s commitment of conscripted troops to the war in Vietnam.

Protests against Johnson and the Vietnam war also took place in Sydney. When protestors sat on the road near Hyde Park, the Liberal Premier of NSW, Robert Askin, reportedly, but perhaps apocryphally, said: “Ride over the bastards.”

In the aftermath of Johnson’s visit, Harold Holt’s Liberal-Country Party government was re-elected in a landslide, delivering the coalition its 8th successive election victory. First elected in 1949, Sir Robert Menzies had retired as prime minister in January 1966 and was succeeded by Holt.

Lem Johns was also present on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He was one of three Secret Service agents in the car directly behind Johnson’s when the shots were fired.


Johns jumped from the car and started running for the then vice-president’s car. He did not make it and was left standing on the street as the motorcade sped away.

Johns can be seen in the picture above, partially obscured behind the head of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, during the swearing-in of President Johnson, on Air Force One.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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