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For the Crystal Palace football player of the same name, see Clint Hill


Clinton J. Hill (born 1932) is a former United States Secret Service agent who was in the presidential motorcade during the John F. Kennedy assassinationmarker. After Kennedy was shot, Hill ran from the car immediately behind the presidential limousine and leapt onto the back of it, holding on while the car raced to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Hill is the last surviving passenger of the presidential limousine which arrived at Parkland.

Hill joined the Denver Office in 1958. After John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States, Hill was assigned to protect the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. Hill became a nationally-known figure upon the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Hill remained assigned to Mrs. Kennedy and the children until after the 1964 presidential election. He then was assigned to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White Housemarker. In 1967, when Johnson was still in office, he became Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) of Presidential Protection. When Richard Nixon came into office, he moved over to SAIC of protection of Vice President Agnew. Finally, Hill was assigned to headquarters as the Assistant Director of the Secret Service for all protection. He retired in 1975.

The assassination

The assassination took place in Dallasmarker, Texasmarker during a Presidential motorcade through the city while en route to a luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart. The President and Mrs. Kennedy were riding in an open limousine containing three rows of seats. The Kennedys were in the rear seat of the car, and the Governor of Texas, John Connally, and his wife, Nellie Connally, were in the middle row. Secret Service agent William Greer was driving and the president's bodyguard, Roy Kellerman, was also in the front seat.

Hill was riding in the car that was immediately behind the presidential limousine. As soon as the shooting began, Hill jumped out and began running to overtake the moving car in front of him with the plan to climb on from the rear bumper and crawl over the trunk to the back seat where the First Lady and stricken President were located.

Hill grabbed a small handrail on the left rear of the trunk that was normally used by bodyguards to stabilize themselves while standing on small platforms on the rear bumper. There were no bodyguards stationed on the bumper that day because they had been called back earlier by the agent in charge Emory P. Roberts, who was riding in the backup car. as the motorcade was leaving the airport. Hill grabbed the handrail less than two seconds after the fatal shot to the President. Driver William Greer then accelerated, causing the car to slip away from Hill, who was in the midst of trying to leap on to it. He succeeded in regaining his footing and jumped on to the back of the quickly accelerating vehicle.

As he got on, he saw Mrs. Kennedy, apparently in shock, crawling onto the flat rear trunk of the moving limousine. Agent Hill crawled to her and guided the First Lady back into her seat. Once back in the car, Hill placed his body above the President and Mrs. Kennedy. Meanwhile, in the folding jump seats directly in front of them, Mrs. Connally had pulled her wounded husband, Governor John Connally, to a prone position on her lap.

Agent Kellerman, in the front seat of the car, gave orders over the car’s two-way radio to the lead vehicle in the procession "To the nearest hospital, quick!" Hill was shouting as loudly as he could "To the hospital, to the hospital!" Enroute to the hospital, Hill flashed a "thumbs-down" signal and shook his head from side to side at the agents in the followup car, signaling the graveness of the President's condition.

As the car moved at high speed to the hospital, Hill maintained his position shielding the couple with his body, and was looking down at the mortally wounded President. Agent Hill later testified:

The right rear portion of his head was missing.
It was lying in the rear seat of the car.
His brain was exposed.
There was blood and bits of brain all over the entire rear portion of the car.


Mrs. Kennedy was completely covered with blood.
There was so much blood you could not tell if there had been any other wound or not, except for the one large gaping wound in the right rear portion of the head.


The limousine then rapidly exited Dealey Plazamarker and sped to Parkland Memorial Hospital, only minutes away, followed by other vehicles in the motorcade.

Although the Secret Service was shocked at its failure to protect the life of President Kennedy, virtually everyone agreed that Clint Hill's rapid and brave actions had been without blemish. He was honored at a ceremony in Washington just days after the funeral of John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy, despite being in deep mourning, made a rare appearance at this same event to personally thank him.

After the assassination

In a 1975 interview with Mike Wallace, Hill said that if he had gotten to the vehicle a second earlier, he would have been able to take the third shot, and felt a great deal of regret for not being able to reach there in time.

Footnotes

  1. King, Larry King Interviews Mike Wallace, CNN, March 22, 2006
  2. "JFK assassination: Secret Service Standdown" on YouTube


References




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