Obama honors Gates on last day as defense chief

President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retiring Defense Secretary Robert Gates during an Armed Forces Farewell Tribute, Thursday, June 30, 2011, at the Pentagon. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

June 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Barack Obama on Thursday honored outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates' four decades of service, including the past 4 1/2 years in charge of the Pentagon, by surprising him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It's the highest honor a president can give a civilian.