Campus Notebook: Jack Bauer, the House Version

Posted January 28, 2009 at 6:05pm

John “Jack” Kelliher has spent years guarding the House chamber, ensuring that Members don’t get killed — or kill each other.

[IMGCAP(1)]During his 30 years in the Capitol, he has tackled a would-be bomber, stopped a visitor from rushing the dais and quietly warned countless Members to follow the rules. On Wednesday, however, he left it all behind to retire to St. Augustine, Fla.

Kelliher said his last day was going fine, though the snow and ice almost made him late.

“The place kind of grows on you,” he said in his distinct Boston accent. “I’m a very lucky individual to meet so many important people, plus see so many interesting things.”

Kelliher is a familiar face to many Members, who have grown used to his watchful eye and keen sense of humor.

Beginning in 1978 as a Capitol Police officer, Kelliher worked his way up to House Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms — a position that means he keeps the chamber secure and in order. He was also keeper of the mace, a symbolic staff that signifies the House is in session and that is used to restore order when there are unruly Members.

As Kelliher’s last day approached, Members took to the floor to congratulate him on his retirement.

Kelliher “could be our Jack Bauer,” Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) said, referring to the special agent in the TV show “24.”

“I have had more laughs in the last 15 years with Jack out on the balcony than just about anybody in the House,” Wamp said. “He is a good-natured man and a man of extraordinary commitment to our country. We will sorely miss him.”

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