Much like you, for the most part, I only know what I see on the television and read in the newspaper when it comes to the actions of the President, except one specific occasion. I was the Force Master Chief, Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet when the Iraqi Military decided to shoot an Exocet missile at the USS Stark. The story of the Stark stands on it's own but as the Force Master Chief, I attended the memorial service for the families of the dead and injured held in Mayport Florida. President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan were in attendance and participated in the memorial ceremony. The MCPON, the Fleet Master Chief, and myself were seated with the families of the injured. After the service, as the Atlantic Fleet Band played the Navy Hymn, the President and his wife went through the rows of the families of the dead and spent quality time with every family member. I saw the President and Mrs. Reagan hug family member after family member. I was just a few feet from the President, so I had full access to the entire event. They spent at least two hours talking, grieving, and hugging each family member. It was a truly emotional time and I was proud of our President and our Navy.
The time went on so long that the band wore out! The broke into combos to play quite music while other band members rested, put ice on their lips, and probably went to the head! As the President came to the last row of family members, a middle aged woman fell suddenly to the floor and began to moan. I was sure she was overwhelmed by her emotions. And who could blame her. The Navy was ready and three Corpsmen came out with a gurney and attended to her, wheeling her to a medical room previously set up. Again, I was proud of their care and swiftness.
Later, we boarded the Fleet Commander's aircraft and I sat next to the senior Atlantic Fleet Chaplain. He was a Captain Chaplain and a Catholic Priest by denomination. I sat down and we began to recount the events of the day. I said that I thought everything went well. He said; All but that last lady who fell out. I replied that I had observed that and was sorry she was overwhelmed by her grief. The Chaplain then said; "That was not grief, it was her religious traditions. She was Pentecostal and we had not planned for that! He then went on; But, do you know that the President and Mrs. Reagan went back to the medical room to make sure she was all right and spent a long time with her! Now that is a President who understands the troops!