President Clinton presided over an emotional farewell for his outgoing Defence Secretary William Perry on Tueesday.
Perry was as awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at an elaborate farewell ceremony at Fort Myer just outside Washington D-C.
Clinton said he was losing was one the most able men ever to serve the United States.
President Clinton has saluted his outgoing defence chief as one of the ablest men ever to serve the nation.
Clinton joined in the elaborate ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia, near Washington, for U-S defense secretary William Perry as he prepared to leave his post.
The bitter cold forced the organisers to move the ceremony indoors at the last minute. But it was still accompanied by full military pomp.
The President credited Perry for successfully down sizing the military without down
grading America's defences.
''As long as he was secretary of defense, I never went to bed a single night worried about the security of the United States, or the welfare of the men and women in uniform.'' SUPERCAPTION: Bill Clinton US President
The president listed missions to Haiti, Bosnia and the Persian Gulf among Perry's many accomplishments in his three years at Pentagon's helm.
SOUNDBITE: It was his vision and drive and leadership that brought from the drawing board to deployment in record time many of the advanced technologies that were vital to our nation's victory in Operation Desert Storm. Bill Perry was one of the great and indeed unsung heros of the Gulf War.
SUPER CAPTION: President Bill Clinton
Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili joined the praise for Perry.
Bill Perry has been GI's Secretary of Defence. When asked his greatest accomplishment as secretary, Bill Perry didn't name an operation, or a weapons system. He said that his greatest accomplishment was his very strong bond with our men and women in uniform.
SUPER CAPTION: General John Shalikashvilli. Chairman, U.S. Joint Chief of Staff
Facing the troops he led for three years, Perry said he was glad that under his tenure, America avoided isolation, as that road could only lead to instability and war.
Perry underlined how important his relationship with the troops was:
That advice, 'take care of the troops and they will take care of you has made all the difference as I learned from my mistakes, as I took pride in my achievements.
SUPER CAPTION: William Perry, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense
Perry, who is being replaced by former Republican Senator William Cohen, told Clinton last fall that he wanted to leave the administration for personal reasons.