People who watched film of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 may remember Clint Hill without even realizing it.
Hill was in Fort Smith on Friday, as the secret service agent who jumped on Kennedy’s motorcade moments after the president was shot and killed broke his silence while promoting his new book.
Most Americans found out the president died from watching legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite. Clint Hill knew long before the rest of us.
“As soon as I got up on the car and looked down, because when I put Mrs. Kennedy back in the seat and the president’s body fell into her lap, I could see through the hole in the president’s skull that most of his brain matter in that area was gone,” Hill told 5NEWS. “I knew it was a fatal wound.”
He is still emotional talking about that day. Hill said he can’t let it go and refused to say anything about it for so long, he wouldn’t even talk about it with his family.
Hill helped on another book and met author Lisa McCubbin. They developed a friendship, and that led to the book “Mrs. Kennedy And Me”.
“It really was a cathartic experience, and that’s really been beneficial to me emotionally,” Hill said.
Hill was assigned to protect the first lady, and he was by her side almost nonstop for four years. He wanted to tell her story based on his first-hand experience, and he doesn’t care for some of the other books about her.
“Realizing that the information in those books was written by a friend of a friend of a friend who really didn’t know her, I really wanted to get information out there what she was really like,” Hill said. “I wanted to pay tribute to her, and that’s what this book is meant to do.”
Most of the book “Mrs. Kennedy And Me” focuses on the First Lady, but it is Hill’s first-hand account of that infamous day in Dallas, for which Hill will be forever be remembered.
“When I discuss it in presentations about the book, there are times when I still choke up because of certain things that happened, and I’m not embarrassed by it,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s deep down. It is emotional.”
Decades have passed, but Clint Hill will not forgive himself. He tried, but he did not save the president’s life.
“I’ve had people say you did everything you could have done, and I did what I could do, but I realize that wasn’t quite enough,” Hill said. “I should have done more.”
Hill retired from the Secret Service in 1975. Just days after the assassination, Hill was recognized for his effort to save the president. Even though she had just buried her husband, Mrs. Kennedy attended the ceremony to personally thank the man she called Mr. Hill.