From his humble beginnings in Cut and Shoot, near Conroe, Texas, all the way to Washington, D.C., Southlake Police Officer Tim Stites has made his mark in his chosen profession. Tim decided early in his life, around the age of 15, that he wanted to be in law enforcement. He knew what it was like to be a kid growing up very poor with little to no parental support. But even at that age he knew the difference between right and wrong and he believed in standing up for himself. He just needed a mentor and someone to believe in him. That desire and determination led him to set his sights on a career as a police officer. He hoped that it would give him the opportunity to be a leader and to help others.
When he turned 18 Tim signed up to serve in the Marines, quickly moving up in rank. He scored well in boot camp and started training in the police academy at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. It was there that he was hand-picked to test his skills for membership in an elite group. After completing extensive background checks and additional training, that he passed with flying colors, he received his orders to go to Quantico, Virginia. With his top, high-level security clearance papers, nicknamed “Yankee White” for the White House, in hand, Tim was given his first assignment; travel with and protect the President of the United States, George H.W. Bush Sr.
“I was, and still am, extremely honored to have been a part of President Bush’s security detail. We traveled extensively and I am grateful to have been an eye witness to many historical meetings alongside the leader of the free world.”
Tim says he will always remember his very first trip traveling with the President. It was to Fort Lauderdale, Florida during President Bush’s second campaign bid. “I think that’s when it really hit me that I was part of the Presidential Security detail. President Bush saluted me as he boarded Marine One. I knew at that moment that all of the intense training I received had prepared me for this role and I would do whatever was necessary to protect the President of the United States.”
The Marine’s Presidential Security Detail works together with the Secret Service to keep the President safe at all times. The Marine One unit operates with a fleet of helicopters. As the President travels, the helicopters leap frog one another to provide him with a helicopter that has been fully checked out, tuned up and ready to take him to his next destination. It takes a lot of coordination and communication behind the scenes. Tim says, “Sometimes we would be gone for an entire month at a time traveling with the President, Vice President, high-ranking military advisors or traveling dignitaries.” Tim says that during his four years on the President’s Security detail, he traveled to more than half of the states in the U. S. as well as traveled abroad.
Tim recalled several trips that left an impression on him. On one occasion he flew over Korea and the demilitarized zone for a planned political agenda. “That was kind of surreal,” Tim said. On yet another occasion he was flying with the President and the Egyptian President and he said the Secret Service was really out in force. At one point they asked him if he was wearing his bullet proof vest. Tim replied, “We aren’t issued those.” He later learned that the Egyptian President gets the highest number of death threats than any other foreign dignitary or leader.
Tim added, however, that the Marines were the only military group allowed to have a bullet in the chamber while escorting the President. Being a high-level marksman, Tim was prepared and ready to perform his duty if called upon.
As a matter of fact, Tim is very comfortable and skilled as a marksman. It is definitely one of his passions and it comes naturally to him especially when instructing others. He has served as an instructor on occasion and people tell him his style makes it easy for them to learn from him. Tim says, “I really like to see people succeed, to aim for high standards and perform to the best of their ability. It makes me feel like I have done my job well if their skills improve.”
During his career, Tim has held the high shooter award and also performed in shooting competitions. While in the military, his team took 2nd place overall in a stiff competition with some pretty heavy hitters including: the DEA, FBI, Army and Navy. Would you believe that he shot a perfect 100 with a broken wrist? Now that’s some great shooting!
As we talked, Tim said he couldn’t discuss certain events but he did talk about some close calls and some memorable times while serving on the Presidential Security Detail. Tim said, “One time I thought I was going to be blown into the water at the New York Harbor! The Secret Service landed in their big CH-57 helicopters right on the pier and then the Marines landed our helicopter right afterward. There was only a narrow section of the pier to walk on and the wash from the huge rotors of the CH-57’s nearly “washed” us right into the water!” On another occasion he recalls extremely bad weather and a very harrowing experience. “We were landing at the Quantico air strip in a C-130. The air strip is very narrow and the pouring rain and bad weather didn’t help landing conditions at all. The landing went something like this; tilt, bump, bump, tilt, bump, tilt, tilt, bump and then we finally came to a stop. I was never happier to be on solid ground again in my life,” said Tim.
Some of Tim’s fondest memories were with President Bush Sr. and the First Lady Barbara Bush
especially at Camp David. Tim said it was the only time the President was allowed a little more freedom and space to take long walks with the Secret Service and security detail following a little further behind him than usual. “The President would often come over during our down time and play Wally Ball with us. How cool is that to be playing Wally Ball with the President of the United States,” Tim said. He also recalled a time during the Thanksgiving holidays when First Lady Barbara Bush brought a nice Thanksgiving meal over to the hanger we were staying. “She even sat and ate with us because she said she knew how difficult it was to be without our families during the holidays. You could definitely see the ‘Texan’ coming out in both of them. I’ll never forget that and I have so much respect for the way the Bushes treated us,” Tim said.
Tim completed his tour with the Marine Security detail while President Clinton was in office. He recalls a time when President Clinton was in Little Rock, Arkansas and decided at the last minute that he wanted to go to Hope, Arkansas to visit his mother’s gravesite. It was about a year after she had passed away. Tim says, “It was very late in the evening and it required a bit of a scramble to make the necessary arrangements. We had to organize a ground motorcade and find pilots to fly the Marine One helicopter with the motorcade and we were basically traveling “lights out” so as to not attract attention. It was pretty dark on those back roads but we accomplished the task and were glad that we could make that happen for President Clinton.”
Soon, Tim’s time in the Marines was up and after receiving his honorable discharge he quickly began his journey into a career in law enforcement. Now, 20 years later, he says he feels very blessed as he looks back on his accomplishments, but he adds, “I’m not even close to retiring or stopping. I have set other goals for myself as a police officer here in Southlake and I even have a few outside interests that I’d like to pursue someday.”
Tim hopes to become an entrepreneur perhaps continuing an education in business management and combining it with his communication skills. He said, “I recently went to a conference to hear Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman speak and he was very inspiring and an incredible speaker. I would love to be a speaker like that someday and inspire others to greatness.” Lt. Colonel Grossman, a former Army Ranger, West Point professor and author, is recognized as the world’s foremost expert in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.
Tim also has a few ideas in mind for a book but he’s keeping that under wraps. For now though, he wants to continue focusing on being the best police officer he can be for the citizens of Southlake and hopefully be a good leader and mentor to everyone he comes in contact with.
Tim says he is blessed to be married to a wonderful woman, Amber and proud to be a great dad to his two children; Colton, who is quick to point out that he is, 11 and a half years old, and Brooke who, equally is, 9 and half years old. Tim says, “I know what it’s like to be a kid without good role models and it’s important for me to be there for my children in every way.”
From Cut and Shoot, Texas to Washington, D.C. Tim now calls Southlake home and his fellow officers his, “other” family, and we couldn’t be happier or more proud to have him on our team.