News / USA

    Secret Service Agent Opens Up About JFK Assassination

    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.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.