First White House Gate Crasher (Literally)

The Salahis ain’t got nuthin’ on Doyle Allen Hicks of Waynesville, North Carolina. The former wanted to socialize with the president. The latter wanted to warn the president of a communist takeover.

White House northwest gate
White House northwest gate

This is a colorful article from the Washington Post, published on September 27th, 1963.

Washington, Sept. 26–White House policemen and Secret Service agents subdued a screaming man almost under the North Portico of the White House after he had crashed his truck through iron gates to gain entrance to the grounds.

The driver of the small pickup truck identified himself to policemen as Doyle Allen Hicks, 38, of Waynesville, N.C.

Five officers halted the truck after he had driven it nearly 100 yards inside the White House grounds to within a few feet of the main entrance.

“I just had to see the President,” he explained after his capture. “The Communists are taking over in North Carolina. They are killing people like flies.”

Within the hour, he was under observation at the District of Columbia Medical Center.

The incident occurred at the northwest gate of the Presidential mansion, on busy Pennsylvania avenue. One of the pair of gates was open, the other closed.

Hicks drove the truck, of an ancient vintage, across the sidewalk, barely missing a pedstrian, slammed into the closed gate and kept going. A member of the White House police force on guard at the gate was nearly crushed against the cement portal.

Another policeman at the gate chased the truck up the driveway toward the mansion, while the man who missed being injured grabbed the phone in the sentry house and called the guards always stationed on the portico warning them of the incident.

Three more guards rushed off the columned portico and into the driveway and Hicks stopped the truck as ordered and alighted. The man was not armed, and officials said the guards were not required to display their revolvers to force him to halt or to subdue him.

But the five policemen and Secret Service agents were forced to virtually carry Hicks the 100 yards back down the driveway to the sentry box at the gate. He screamed and wrestled with his captors all the while.

Many persons walking on Pennsylvania avenue witnessed the gate-crashing and many others were attracted by the screams as the intruder was rushed away from the door of the White House.

After questioning by Secret Service officials, the city police were called. As he was pushed into the patrol wagon, Hicks shouted at the policemen:

“You boys better get down to North Carolina . . . You’d better come down there. You’d better get down there and see what’s going on.”

The truck is owned by the Hicks Plumbing Company, apparently a family concern. It suffered a broken fender and bumper. the gate was badly bent and forced into the ground as the truck hit it as a speed estimated at between 4 and 10 miles an hour.

The President is not in the city, being on a trip to the West.

Mrs. Kennedy was on the ground floor of the mansion when the incident occurred. Caroline was in her first grade school class on the third floor, while John, Jr. was out for a ride.

Crazy? Yes. But this is just one of way too many crazies that have breached the gates of the White House.

White House gate crasher Doyle Allen Hicks - September 27th, 1963 (Washington Post)
White House gate crasher Doyle Allen Hicks – September 27th, 1963 (Washington Post)

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • another Josh

    Seeing an article about White House gates always reminds me that there is a set of former White House gates that look very similar to those pictured here on display just south of DC: http://www.ahs.org/river_farm/virtual_tour.htm

    They were apparently sold after a reconstruction project and installed at a private residence which later became a public garden. A White House historian just happened to see them and was able to determine their provenance.