News & Politics

You Must Remember…Dr. Benjamin Aaron

He helped save Ronald Reagan.

Photograph by Luis Garcia

“I Was Expected to Get Him Through”

—Dr. Benjamin Aaron

When Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. on March 30, 1981, it took a team—including Secret Service agents plus doctors and nurses at George Washington University Hospital—to save his life. Among the physicians was Benjamin Aaron, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon. It was Aaron who found and squeezed out the bullet from the President’s lung. Now 82, Aaron is retired in San Diego.

“At the time it was going down, we just wanted to get the guy through. After, the event began to assume, for me at least, a lot more magnitude—the fact that he survived, and how it played out in the history of this country. . . . This is the way I’m introduced in my golf circle now when there’s someone new: ‘Hey, do you know this is the guy who took the bullet out of the President?’ They say, ‘Is that right? Let me shake your hand.’ Of course, that’s in conservative Southern California. If this was in LA, they might say, ‘Why’d you do that?’ ”

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.