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ND Native Clint Hill on the JFK Assassination - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND Native Clint Hill on the JFK Assassination

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  You may not recognize him, but, his face has been part of the most historic images in U.S.  history for nearly 50 years.

   North Dakota native, Clint Hill is the subject of a new book, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me".

  The former Secret Service Agent was in charge of protecting Jackie Kennedy and her children.

  Now, in the first of a two-part series, Valley News Teams Neil Carlson introduces us to Clint Hill and his fascinating story.

  This is Washburn, North Dakota, forty miles north of Bismarck. It's the boyhood home of Clint Hill.

  Now, Clint Hill walks us back in time to some  of the most iconic scenes in U.S. history from November 22, 1963. Hill was working as a secret service agent, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

  Hill sat down with me during a recent visit to his home town to talk about that day.

Clint Hill, Former Secret Service Agent: "We had just gotten through a very big crowd in downtown Dallas on Main Street. And we were about to go onto a freeway, which would take us to the Trade Mart, where the President was going to make a speech."

  They never got there. That's Clint Hill beside the Presidential limo in Dallas.

Clint Hill: "I heard this explosive noise over my right shoulder. I looked across the back of the Presidents car and I saw him grabbing his throat and move to his left. I knew he was in trouble. I jumped from the follow up car and started to run to get to the Presidential car. The third shot I heard, I felt, because it hit the President in the head… right above the right ear toward the rear. And it was such an explosion, impact that the wound spewed out blood, brain matter, bone fragments and that came all over me and the back of the car. And when that happened Mrs. Kennedy got up on the trunk. She was trying to retrieve some of that material from the right rear of the trunk. She didn't even know I was there. I grabbed her and put her in the back seat. The President's body then fell into her lap."

  After climbing on the back of the limo, Hill kept his body in the line of fire to protect the President and First Lady from any further gunfire. But, it was too late.

News Coverage, 1963: "The casket carrying the body of President Kennedy is being transferred to an ambulance."

  It was years later, in 1975 when Hill retired from the Secret Service that he revealed a terrible burden that had been haunting him for years. He felt responsible for the death of President Kennedy.

Nat, Dec 7, 1975, 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace: "You got there in less than 2 seconds. Clint, you couldn't have gotten there. You surely don't have any sense of guilt about that?"

Clint Hill, 1975: "Yes, I certainly do. I have a great deal of guilt about that."

  Hill's biographer says it all lead to a battle with depression and alcohol that lasted years.

Lisa McCubbin, Biographer: "He told me for about 7 years he cut himself off from everybody. Basically, curled up on a couch in his basement with a bottle of scotch and a carton of cigarettes."

  Now, nearly 50-years after JFK's assassination, Hill has learned to live with it. But, he still hasn't completely forgiven himself.

Clint Hill: "I still have a sense of responsibility, guilt. But it's something I have to live with."

Reporter: "You've come to terms with that?"

Hill: "Not completely. I did what I could do, based on everything. But I still have that sense that I should have been able to do more, because it was our job to protect the President. We failed.

   Clint Hill looks back on happier times. His childhood in Washburn and the time spent with First Lady, Jackie Kennedy  traveling the world. He'll also reveal a couple of secrets about Jackie.

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