Nightly News   |  June 30, 2011

Obama awards Gates Medal of Freedom

During a farewell tribute for his four decades of service, President Obama on Thursday presented Defense Secretary Robert Gates with this country's highest civilian honor. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

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>>> outside the pentagon today, a farewell tribute to defense secretary robert gates including a surprise. the president presented him with the medal of freedom, this nation's highest civilian honor, thanking him for his four decades of public service and his long tenure as secretary of defense under two presidents of different political parties. president obama called gates a humble american patriot and his response was emotional.

>> it is a big surprise, but we should have known a couple of months ago you would get pretty good at this covert ops stuff.

>> gates has a lot of