Tag: Clint Hill

1The workplace in a sense becomes a second home to the majority of us, and for some of us, they become even closer to us than those with whom we have a biological link. But what happens when you’re an agent in the Secret Service?  There is no set eight-hour workday for agents assigned to the first family. Instead, their hours are often unpredictable, long and extremely fatiguing. Nevertheless, the agents do their jobs to the best of their abilities and in the process create bonds with the members of the first family that sometimes remain in place many years after their service has ended.  Clint Hill, long retired from the Secret Service, is best remembered by many people from the Zapruder film, in which he is the sole agent that attempts to come to the aid of the president as jumps on the back of the motorcade as the Secret Service transports a mortally wounded John F. Kennedy to Parkland Memorial Hospital.  He has written several books on his time as a Secret Service agent with several presidents and the events that took place during that fateful trip to Dallas, Texas.  This is his memoir of his time with the former first lady and the relationship that developed.

The book begins as the JFK wins the election becoming the president-elect.  Hill, who previously served Dwight Eisenhower is assigned to guard Mrs. Kennedy.  At first, we see that he’s not thrilled with the assignment, but as we follow Mrs. Kennedy and Hill on their journey, we come to see that it was nothing short of incredible.  And even years later, the news of her death proves to be as much of a devastating blow as JFK’s death decades earlier. As Hill admits himself, he never fully recovered from Dallas and other agents handed in their resignations, unable to cope with what now be classified as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Cigarettes and alcohol become his sedatives of choice but remarkably, he was able to transform those dreadful memories into several well-written books about the personal lives of the first couple.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, later Onassis, is still recalled as one of the finest first ladies to have ever occupied the White House.  Fluent in several languages, physically agile and highly intellectual,  her poise has been unmatched by many with the possible exception of the current first lady who will depart the White House at the end of year.  For year following JFK’s death, the press continued to follow her and her every move  garnered attention from all over.  In some places, it could  be argued that she might have been even more popular than JFK himself.  Through Hill’s memories, we are able to see her private side; fun-loving, cigarette smoking, thrill taking and highly personal, genuinely concerned about the privacy of her children.   Attempting to live as close to a “normal” life as possible, she takes great strains and places upon Hill, great burdens to maintain the strictest levels of privacy throughout their tenure together.  A monumental feat without question, but time and time again, Hill comes through earning the respect and permanent trust of the first lady.

True friendship is not easy to come by. But during his time as the protector of the first lady, he becomes one of her closest friends and confidants and the memories he shares are that of a man who truly enjoyed his job and lives with those moments, good and bad, every day of his life.

ISBN-10: 1451648464
ISBN-13: 978-1451648461

JFK

clint hillThe 20th Century was filled with some of the most earth-shattering events the world has ever seen.  The home video shot by Abraham Zapruder that recorded the assassination of John F. Kennedy stands as one of the most important pieces of motion picture ever captured.  During that film, as former Firs Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy reaches to the trunk of the car to retrieve a portion of JFK’s skull, a secret service agent can be seen leaping on the trunk of the car as the motorcade sped down the Stemmons Freeway en route to Parkland Hospital.  The agent, Clint Hill stands out in the film as only one of two agents to make any major movement to help the fatally wounded Kennedy and Gov. John Connally. Hill would go on to serve three more presidents and today is a best-selling author with several books published about his time working in the United States Secret Service.

Teaming up with Lisa McCubbin, who worked with Hill on his first book, ‘Mrs. Kennedy and Me’ and subsequent memoir ‘Five Days In November’, Hill recounts his experiences during a career that stretched over five administrations, beginning with the legendary Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The secret service of today is far advanced from the days of Eisenhower’s administration and as Hill shows us, the secret service was still developing as the agency tasked with the daily protection of the commander-in-chief.  As Eisenhower’s administration comes to an end, a new president takes office and his administration would change Hill’s life forever.  Primarily assigned to guard Mrs. Kennedy, she and Hill become close friends and as fate would have it, he was included in the motorcade on November 22, 1963.   The murder of JFK and the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson are still surreal and continue to capture the public’s attention as more books are published about that day.

Moving on to Johnson’s administration, we see the stark contrast between the two presidents.  But Hill allows us to see the private side of LBJ, not often seen or discussed in books or magazines. He would stay with Johnson throughout the remainder of his term until the top office in the land was assumed by Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon’s presidency and the events that followed would shock not only Hill but the entire nation.   The Vietnam War and Watergate scandal permanently marked Nixon’s time in office and his resignation is the only one to have ever occurred by a sitting U.S. President.  The prior resignation of then Vice-President Spiro Agnew began to erode the already crumbling confidence in the U.S. government.  And by the time that Gerald Ford took office, things had reached the point where the nation was threatening to become unhinged.   Regardless of their personal shortcomings or questionable judgment calls, Hill stood by each one and recalls his time with each and remarks fondly and gracefully on the proud career he left behind.

This book is not a “smoking gun” about JFK’s murder nor is it a gossip column.  It is a memoir by a remarkable person who had an even more remarkable career.  His life was and is extraordinary by far and in the book an entire cast of characters make an appearance such as Arnold Palmer, Frank Sinatra and even Elvis Presley.  Assassinations and attempted assassinations,  infant deaths, racial tension, war and social change are relived as Hill’s memory comes alive.  And as he Hill points out, not many agents have worked in as many details as himself making his story all the more valuable as a piece of history recounting America’s most dangerous moments.

ISBN-10: 1476794138
ISBN-13: 978-1476794136

 

 

Biographies

five daysAbraham Zapruder captured a defining and tragic moment in history when his camera recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The film was originally locked away by Time Life but was finally released to the public years later as a result of the investigation of Jim Garrison into Kennedy’s murder. The film leaves the view speechless and speaks more than a thousand words.  Next to the gruesome murder of the President, there’s  an iconic sequence that occurs that also remains cemented in the memory of the witnesses in Dealey Plaza that day and the millions others who have repeated watched the film.  As the motorcade speeds toward the triple underpass, a Secret Service agent is seen jumping on to the back of the car as it speeds up to transport the mortally wounded Kennedy to Parkland Hospital.  The agent is Clint Hill, a veteran of the Secret Service who served several presidents during his multi-decade career.  Now 84, he’s become an author over the years, having written a few books, one of which is this account of the fateful trip to Dallas, Texas and the tragedy that ensued.

The book begins on November 21 as the party prepares for the departure to Texas.  Hill shines light on the commotion and last-minute maneuvers that are required to make the trip go as smoothly as possible. We also see the softer side of the President as he embraces his children for the very last time.   And as Air Force One departs for San Antonio, the first stop, no one aboard knows that this is the last trip that they will make with Kennedy.  After receiving a warming welcome at San Antonio, the party is jubilant about the potential to mend political fences in Texas to bolster Kennedy’s chances for reelection in 1964.  The morning of the 22nd starts out on a positive note as the President makes his last speech at the Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce.  The flight to Dallas is only fifteen minutes and the first couple emerges after landing to a crowd of eager supporters.  The motorcade makes its way through the streets of Dallas and at 12:29 p.m. everything goes dark as the nightmare begins changing history and Hill’s life forever.

As the tragedy unfolds in Dallas, Hill serves as our point man takings us through each development as it happened.  We also get a feel for the emotions and thoughts going through the minds of everyone as they struggle to remained composed in the face of an unspeakable tragedy.  The vivid reality of the chaos in Parkland and later on Air Force One becomes even clearer as Hill takes us through the day and all the way until Kennedy’s body returns to the east coast for the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital and his final placement in the coffin in which he was buried.   Funeral arrangements, the arrival of family and guests combined with the changing of the guard in Washington prove to be heavy tasks on all present and each does their best under the strain.  Up until Kennedy’s final moment before he lowered into the ground, Hill remains a loyal agent and intimate family friend.

Because this book is written by a former agent on Kennedy’s detail, some would expect it to have possible clues as to who might have killed the President.  This is not the case and Hill sticks to the government’s story of Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman.  Whether Hill continues to believe that is beyond the scope of the book and a completely different discussion.  What this book is, is a poignant memoir by a man who remains haunted by those five days in November, 1963.

 

 

JFK