Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #336

13 facts about Clint Hill. You may very well be saying, "Who?" But I think every American has seen Clint Hill. 60 years ago, on November 22, he was the Secret Service Agent who leaped onto the back of President Kennedy's limo in Dallas right after the shooting, pushing Jacqueline Kennedy back into the car.

1. Clint Hill is 91 years old. He was born in Larimore, ND.

2. He's a history buff. It's fitting that a man who played a part in a pivotal moment in American history has always read extensively about this country. He graduated from Concordia College with a degree in history.

3. He's a veteran. He served in the US Army before joining the Secret Service.

4. Dwight Eisenhower was his "first President." For a short time, he was assigned to President Eisenhower. At 27, he was one of the youngest in Ike's detail.

5. He initially resisted protecting Jacqueline Kennedy. After her husband's election in November, 1960, Mrs. Kennedy required 24/7 protection. Clint recalls he would have much, much preferred to guard the President-elect. He was afraid that being assigned to The First Lady would doom him to 4-to-8 years of fashion shows, ballets, and high teas.

6. He was surprised to learn Jackie was, in his words, "a jock." To protect her, learned to water ski and became proficient. He tried to be her tennis partner, but he wasn't very good and the Kennedys hired a tennis pro to play with her while Clint sat court side. When she went to Virginia to ride the hounds, Mr. Hill rode in a car beside the path to keep her always in his sight line.

7. During the Kennedy years, he became a world traveler. He protected the First Lady on state visits to India and Pakistan and on private vacations to Italy and Greece.

8. He was with her when she went into labor. Born in August, 1963, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy became the only baby born to a sitting First Lady in the 20th century. He lived only 39 hours, a victim of hyaline membrane disease, or respiratory distress.
9. They were always "Mrs. Kennedy" and "Mr. Hill." For all that they went through together -- first the premature birth of her baby and then, 3 months later, the murder of her husband -- they never referred to one another by their first names.
10. They never discussed what happened on the trunk of the Lincoln Continental. After shots were fired during the motorcade, Clint Hill ran from the Secret Service followup car to the Presidential limo. He risked his life leaping onto the back. Mrs. Kennedy was already on the trunk. He pushed her back into the car and shielded both Kennedys with his body while they sped to the hospital. Mrs. Kennedy told both the Warren Commission and historian William Manchester that she simply didn't remember climbing out of the car. She was in shock. Clint Hill says that she retrieving part of the President's skull, which she did give to doctors at Parkland Hospital. Because of the historic Zapruder film, Clint Hill's actions during the motorcade are immortalized.
11. Mrs. Kennedy personally recommended Mr. Hill for special commendation and was there when it presented to him. For the rest of her life she assiduously avoided discussing the events of the motorcade, but made it clear by her actions that she in no way blamed Clint Hill for what happened that day. He, however, still wrestles with guilt. If only he had reached the bumper of the President's car seconds sooner ...*
12. When Jacqueline Kennedy moved out of the White House, Clint Hill went with her. He remained part of her Secret Service detail for a time in her private homes in Washington and New York. After the 1964 Presidential election, Hill returned to the White House to protect Lyndon Johnson. He retired from the Secret Service in 1975 after serving five First Families.
13. Today he is an author and lecturer. He has authored (or co-authored) six books about his remarkable career.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

 *It is important to note that Clint Hill was assigned to The First Lady. The agents assigned to protect the President on 11/22/63 were Roy Kellerman and Bill Greer. I state this not to blame them, but to clear up a common misunderstanding. Because Clint Hill acted first and acted fastest, he is in the Zapruder film and people assume protecting the President that day was his job. It was not.