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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs