WASHINGTON -- Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy left the hospital Tuesday, bid Godspeed by a grateful President Reagan and offered an Acapulco vacation by a wealthy Republican contributor.
'It's great to be alive,' said a tearful McCarthy, who stopped a bullet intended for the president in the assassination attempt last week.
The agent looked hearty as he and his wife Carol spoke to reporters outside the George Washington University Hospital.
'Ladies and gentlemen,' he said, 'a few minutes ago I checked out of the hospital and in a few more minutes I will be leaving here with my wife.'
McCarthy said he had stopped in to see the president before departing, and said Reagan 'looks remarkably well.'
During the visit, Reagan told him GOP backer W. Clement Stone had offered the McCarthys use of an Acapulco condominium for a recuperative vacation.
'Go and have fun,' a White House statement quoted Reagan as telling McCarthy. 'I thank you from the bottom of my heart.'
Secret Service agent Jerry Parr, who threw Reagan into the limousine and hurried him to the hospital after the shooting, told a congressional hearing last week that McCarthy's behavior was 'heroic' when the shots were fired.
'He made himself bigger than life and interposed himself between the assailant and the president,' Parr said. 'He probably saved the president's life or my life.'
McCarthy told reporters Tuesday he and his wife 'feel we have a lot of people we want to thank before we leave here and go home.'
Then McCarthy's voice mind went back to the shooting incident outside the Washington Hilton, and his voice wavered.
'The first people I'd like to thank is the crew of the (District of Columbia) fire ambulance No. 4,' he said, choking on the words.
He paused to regain composure, but his eyes welled with tears: 'And the gentleman (pause) who helped me on the street when I was shot.'
He could not go on, and backed away from the microphone as his wife took his place. 'We'd also like to know who he is. We never got a name on him,' she said, referring to the man who had tried to help.
She said family and friends together with the Secret Service had helped them through this 'very emotional and trying time. We can never forget what they've done this past week.'
Also, she said, there have been cards, letters, telegrams, fruitbaskets and other 'phenomenal' displays of thoughtfulness from strangers across the nation.
'We've never been hit with this before,' she said, 'and it's something that we'll never forget.
Mrs. McCarthy thanked the doctors, then McCarthy, once more smiling broadly, took the microphone again.
'It's great to be alive and it's grand to be Irish,' he exclaimed.
White House press secretary James Brady, meanwhile, is recuperating 'uneventfully' from a bullet wound through the brain he suffered during the assassination attempt.
He sat up in a chair twice Monday, is able to drink by himself and is on a diet of solid food. But although Brady's speech and thought processes are improving daily, doctors expressed concern about his left-side motor functions.
The extensive damage to the right side of his brain has affected his control over the left side of his body.
Doctors at Washington Hospital Center also reported District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty's condition Tuesday 'continues good.' His temperature is normal and he is expected to remain on antibiotics for another 24 hours 'as aprecautionary measure.'