News / USA

Secret Service Agent Opens Up About JFK Assassination

Kane Farabaugh
President John F. Kennedy’s trip to Dallas on November 22, 1963 was intended to boost support in Texas for his 1964 re-election campaign.  But an assassin’s bullet ended his life, an event still shrouded in controversy.  Since that time, Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Kennedy have spoken only rarely about that day.  But in recent years, former agents have explained how the day unfolded, and how it changed their lives.

Former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill admits that providing security for President John F. Kennedy was a challenge.

“With President Kennedy it was mix and mingle.  He didn’t like anybody to come between he and the people,” Hill recalled.

November 22, 1963 began like most presidential visits, even though it was in a part of the country - Texas - that was not enthusiastic about the president.

“This was an extremely conservative area.  Kennedy was not labeled as a conservative by any stretch of the imagination," he explained.  "But we had no threats, no information that would lead us to believe that we would have a major problem.”

As the president's motorcade made its way to Dealey Plaza, Hill was on the vehicle directly behind the presidential limousine.

“I heard an explosive noise to my right rear, the rear of the motorcade. I saw the president grab at his throat and move to his left and I knew something was wrong," Hill remembered, "so I jumped and ran toward the presidential car with the idea of getting up on top. By the time I just about got to the car, the third shot had been fired, hit the President in the head, caused a massive wound which caused blood, brains and other material to be exploded out on to the car, onto me, onto Mrs. Kennedy. 

"She was trying to retrieve some material that had come off from the president’s head and went to the right rear. I grabbed her and did the best I could to get her back in the seat," added Hill.  "When I did that the president fell to his left into her lap. I got up on top and lay on top behind both of them, and I turned and gave a thumbs down to the follow up car."

That event lasted less than a minute, but it scarred Clint Hill for life.
 
“I feel guilt, I feel responsibility," he confided. "I was the only agent who was in a position to do anything that day.”

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy shook the nation and the Secret Service.  The limousine he was traveling in that day in Dallas is now on display at the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan.  Agent Hill would go on to protect three more Presidents.  But overcome by depression, largely because he felt he didn’t get on the back of this car a second sooner, he retired from the Secret Service in 1975.  He rarely spoke about what happened that day in Dallas, but in 2009 author Lisa McCubbin requested an interview for a potential book.

“He did one interview in 1975 with 60 Minutes that’s a classic interview in which he had basically a nervous breakdown on television.  And from then, he went into seclusion," McCubbin said.  

But, eventually, Hill and other agents decided to talk, in part to document how the assassination affected them.

Hill, McCubbin and former agent Gerald Blaine collaborated on several books.  Hill said the release of The Kennedy Detail, Mrs. Kennedy and Me and this year’s Five Days in November has been therapeutic.

“Especially being able to go out and talk to people about the book and answer it, a lot of the questions that they have because there are still a lot of questions out there,” Hill said.

But the questions Clint Hill says he will always struggle to answer are the what-ifs that have plagued him since that fateful day 50 years ago.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid