JFK’s Secret Service agents have finally broken their silence about their darkest day in Dallas.

The Kennedy motorcade in Dallas.
The Kennedy motorcade in Dallas.

The expression on the face of Miss Ola Cooper will forever be seared into my memory as she walked into our sixth grade classroom and announced that President Kennedy had been murdered in Dallas.  Over the next few days of that surreal weekend, many images found a place in the minds and memories of people all over the world.  I saw Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down on live (black and white) television. LBJ was sworn in as President, and later Mrs. Kennedy walked to the funeral service from the White House.

And then there was the Zapruder film.

Special Agent Clint Hill was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy’s detail, which therefore accounts for his presence in Dallas on “That Day” (as the agents refer to it).  Mrs. Kennedy seldom accompanied the President on political trips, and this was her first one since the death of their infant son, Patrick.  Next to the image of my school teacher, the image that stands out most clearly in my memory is that of SA Clint Hill climbing onto the back of the limo to do his job.  What doesn’t always show up in clips of the Zapruder film is that agent Hill helped Mrs. Kennedy back into the seat and then covered her and the President with his own body in case of more shots.  He was doing his job without hesitation.

5187KGAjHlL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-63,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Although The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence was written by former agent, Gerald Blaine (with Lisa McCubbin — an award-winning journalist), it tells the stories of many agents on that assignment.  Much of the book deals with Clint Hill and also the hard-fought emotional journey of their entire group in the years after the tragedy.  As Blaine states in the trailer, the agents felt like they failed in their duty to protect the President.

After a prologue by the author and a foreword by Clint Hill, the book is divided into four parts, each with several chapters.  Each chapter begins with a quote from President Kennedy such as this one from chapter one, “The pay is good and I can walk to work.”  Blaine continues with parts titled, “The Men,” “The Job,” “That Day,” and finally “Our Lives.”

Readers are brought behind the scenes and public façade to experience the everyday lives of the agents and their charges.  As we read about the daily and minute-by-minute events leading up to and beyond November 22, we also learn about their relationships with the First Family and how they came to be good friends and companions despite formalities.

Agents had to work closely together and form bonds that would allow them to communicate without words, computers, cell phones, and other technology we enjoy today.  We’re transported back to a time when a “look,” a raised eyebrow or a simple hand signal could speak volumes. These agents didn’t speak into their cuffs, as there was nothing there but a wrist watch. To no one’s surprise, the agents both collectively and individually defended the President and his family both literally and figuratively.

No way would they confirm any of the peccadilloes for which the Kennedy brothers are now famous.  They do confirm the Warren Commission and staunchly deny any involvement by their associates as suggested by some of the less credible conspiracy theories. Perhaps the agents can, in their lifetime, as President Lincoln said, be assuaged the anguish of their bereavement and be left with the cherished memory of the loved and lost to whom they were so loyal.

The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence contains two sixteen-page sections of black and white glossy prints featuring the agents at work.  This volume will be a welcome addition to the library of any serious Kennedy student.

TheTouristKiller6FCEtier is author of the political thriller, The Tourist Killer. Please click the book cover to read more about the novel on Amazon.

 

 

 

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