JFK Bodyguard Says He’s Haunted by Assassination 55 Years Later

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 23, 2018US News
JFK Bodyguard Says He’s Haunted by Assassination 55 Years Later
Former U.S. Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, who was assigned to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and was in the presidential motorcade during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, talks to the media outside the JFK Tribute in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 22, 2013. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who was the first to react as gunshots were fired into President John F. Kennedy, says he wishes he had acted faster and that the assassination still haunts him.

After Lee Harvey Oswald shot three bullets from a nearby building toward the president on Nov. 23, 1969, Hill leaped out of a car that was following the one Kennedy rode in and raced over to the presidential limousine.

He hoped to create a human shield to block bullets from hitting Kennedy and the president’s wife Jackie Kennedy.

But he couldn’t quite make it in time, with a shot piercing the president’s head.

Hill, now 86, told The Sun that he’s still haunted by the shooting.

“One thing that I’ve never been able to erase from my mind is being on the back of the car looking down at the president, who was lying with his face in Mrs. Kennedy’s lap. The right side of his face is up and I can see that his eyes are fixed. There’s blood everywhere,” he said, remembering the scene.

“I can see the gunshot wound. In the room that’s in the skull I can see that there is no more brain matter left. That is something I could never, and have never been able to, erase from my mind.”

On Twitter on Nov. 22, Hill said: “This is the image that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Hill added to The Sun that he was never scared for his own life as he sought to protect the Kennedys from the bullets. The former Secret Service agent also believes “he should have been faster.”

“If I had been slightly faster I may have been able to prevent the president’s fatal wound and that has bothered me ever since. It always will, I’m sure,” he said. “My job was to protect them and I was unable to do that.”

jfk and wife in car
President John F. Kenned and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy ride with secret agents in an open car motorcade shortly before the president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Hill Receives Award

Hill’s comments come after he received an award for his bravery.

North Dakota awarded him the state’s highest honor, the Rough Rider Award, on Nov. 19. He was the 44th person to receive the award.

“Though it was not possible for him to save the president, it is likely that Agent Hill saved the life of the first lady,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said at the ceremony, reported the Grand Forks Herald.

Hill told the crowd that it took him decades to open up about the traumatic day and recommended people who experience trauma talk with people they trust.

“The more I told her, the better I felt. It was very cathartic,” Hill said. “If there is any message I can ever relate from my experiences to people that have experienced a traumatic event, it is find someone you trust and talk about what it is that is bothering you.”

Hill told a magazine in the state that he credits his upbringing there with his success in life.

“I think it had a great deal to do with any success I’ve ever had. The way I was brought up, we were taught certain things,” he said. “One was that you’re given responsibility to carry out the job that you’re assigned to do, all the way, to the end result. Never shirk your duty. The sense of working hard and doing the job the best you can helped me a good deal throughout my life.”

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