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President Salutes Three Involved In Rescuing Jessica From Texas Well

October 23, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan, saying ″we’re all very proud of you,″ on Friday saluted three federal mine safety agency workers who helped rescue little Jessica McClure from an abandoned well in Midland, Texas, last week.

″Recently the country was riveted, as you know, all of us, to the story of tiny Jessica McClure, and I think that we all said prayers of thanks when that story had a happy ending,″ Reagan said.

Sitting in the front row as Reagan spoke during a jobs conference at the Labor Department were three men who were among those who rescued Jessica - Wayne Kanack, Dave Lilly and Sid Kirk. They are employees of the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

″I think we’re all thankful in our hearts for the generous people who worked around the clock, through fatigue, past exhaustion, to save little Jessica,″ Reagan said. ″And of course, that’s why I’m happy, and I think we are, that three employees of the Department of Labor ... are here with us today, having done their job so well.″

″Wayne Kanack is the manager of the southwestern division (of the Mine Safety and Health Administration). When he heard of Jessica’s plight, he called on the two best people he could think of - Dave Lilly and Sid Kirk - both experienced hard-rock miners,″ Reagan said, adding:

″Working closely together, they directed the rescue operation, drilling a hole parallel to the well and then digging a shaft across to reach Jessica. In fact, Dave Lilly chipped away by hand the last few inches of rock to make the first physical contact with little Jessica.″

Reagan noted that Vice President George Bush had visited Midland, Texas, and presented the men with certificates of recognition following the rescue last Friday night.

The president had a pivate, brief visit with the three men just before he entered the Great Hall of the Labor Department for the jobs seminar.

Lilly, who lives in Carlsbad, N.M., is a special investigator with the mine safety agency’s Carlsbad office. He began his career in the mining industry as a coal miner in 1955, and has worked as an inspector and later as supervisor in the Carlsbad office since 1975.

Kirk, who also lives in Carlsbad, began his career as a coal miner in 1941 and has worked for the federal government as a mine inspector and later as supervisor in the Carlsbad office since 1974.

Kanack, a 1965 graduate of Wisconsin State University, is manager of the mine safety agency’s regional office in Dallas, a position he has held since 1978.

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