tv Book Discussion... CSPAN December 31, 2013 12:15pm-1:21pm EST
i appreciate your taking time to come and think about this stuff today. we have a copy of the book for you if you'd like to have it. chapter five is really kind of the current, most relevant part to today, so if you want to read one piece of it, take a look at that. thank you for coming, and we'll stand adjourned. [applause] >> you're watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> the world is on fire, and things are moving extremely fast. in my own field, computer science, my education sponsors after five to ten years. the cloud is new, facebook is new, twitter is new, a lot of new things, new programming languagings. historically, what we've done is we've sliced human life into, basically, four slices or five slices. one is a play phase the first fife years, then a learn phase, the work phase and a kind of resting phase afterwards and then maybe eventually dying. what i think we should be doing
is we should have them all at the same time, we should play, we should learn, we should work and rest at the same time because world moves so fast today, we can't really afford having a single set of education anymore. we really have to stay up-to-date. >> new year's day on c-span, just before 1 p.m. eastern and trout -- throughout the afternoon, ceos on the future of higher education, robotics and data as the new industrial revolution. on c-span2's booktv, "unflynn itching courage," former senator kay bailey hutchison on the women who helped shape texas. that's at 8:45. and on c-span3's american history tv, daughters of civil rights leaders and a segregation bist share their memories of the civil rights era at 8:30. >> former secret service agent clint hill who was present during the assassination of president john f. kennedy on november 22, 1963, recounts that day and his actions to protect the president and first lady. this is about an hour and five
minutes. >> good evening, everybody. thanks so much for joining us tonight. we're thrilled you came out on this chilly night. my name's lisa, and i have the great honor and pleasure and privilege of working with mr. clint hill on this book. it's our second project together. last year we did mrs. kennedy and me. and it was largely because of the overwhelming response we got to that book that we decided to do another one at the urging of our brilliant editor, mitchell ivers, who's here today from simon & schuster. and this was really kind of his idea, to put together this story of those five days in november from clint's viewpoint which is so personal. and he tells the story like no one else can. and so we're going to share with you tonight, um, a taste of the
book and, hopefully, bring it to life for you like you've never seen before. so, clint, you started in the secret service. president eisenhower was president. and then in 1960 john f. kennedy was elected president. one thing a lot of people don't realize is when administrations change, they bring in all of their own people. the one thing that stays the same is the secret service. so you assumed you were going to be transferred to president kennedy's detail, but you found out that you were being assigned to mrs. kennedy. and what did you think about that? >> i was very disappointed. felt like somebody had demoted me to the second team. because all the action in the past had always been with the president, and that's where i wanted to be. i knew how they treated agents with first ladies previously. they watched fashion shows and tea parties and canasta games. that's about all they did.
so i didn't want any part of that. but i had to accept the assignment, and i did. >> and when you met mrs. kennedy, she was very pregnant and about two weeks into the assignment you got a phone call. >> yes. it was thanksgiving night, 1960, and i got a phone call. i was at my home, and the phone call told me that they had just taken mrs. kennedy to georgetown hospital, an emergency situation. she was about to give birth. so i raced to georgetown hospital, paced the floor like an expectant father. the president was in florida, and i was there, and i witnessed when john f. kennedy jr. was born, and i saw him shortly after his birth. >> and in the photo there, you can sort of see clint peering behind, and in a lot of these photos you have to sort of pick him out, because he tries to stay in the shadows. his job is to not be in the photos, but you'll see him as we go along. so each though you were with mrs. kennedy, you spent a lot of time with president kennedy as
well just because you were so close to the family. >> yes, i had a great deal to do with president kennedy. in this particular photo we were in florida, and i'd been advised that the president's brother-in-law and his best friend, chuck spaulding, were going on a little walk. and periodically, the president and mrs. kennedy would go out to check on him, and they knew the secret service was going to have to go out there, be there, so they volunteered me. >> and how long was this little walk? >> 50 miles. and so i put on my only shoes i had that would last, wing tip dress nor smiles, and i picked up mr. spaulding, and we went out to the sunshine parkway and started walking towards ft. lauderdale. >> what's this photo we see here? >> the president came out. the president is admonishing me because i allowed them to rest. you see, there was a little wager involved. he bet them i couldn't do it,
and he wanted me to push them hard enough so they couldn't. >> so you were with them all the time. you were with them when they went to church, there you are coming out of church, and when mrs. kennedy traveled, she did a lot of traveling overseas often by he's without the president -- herself, without the president or just with her sister. clint, you were with her. what was it like protecting her? >> well, the biggest problem was crowd control. she was an extremely attractive lady. everybody wanted to be as close to her as possible. this is a photo in italy coming out of mass. you can see the crowd there that just, that generated to see her, and that was a typical situation whether we were in italy, whether we were in india, pakistan, to rock coe, france -- morocco, france, greece or italy. it didn't matter, it was always the same. >> and so let's, tell us a little bit about the size of the secret service detail at that time. >> well, back in 1960 there were
only two of us assigned to mrs. kennedy. three were assigned to the children. and 34 were assigned to the president. that meant that at any one time there were only five agents with the president because it was shift work, three shifts a day plus agents out on advance assignments, some people were on leave. >> okay. so let's go through some -- we're going to show you some photos of the kind of challenges the secret service faced when they were protecting this wildly-popular couple around the world. >> this is in dublin, ireland. you'll see the crowds can't be contained on the sidewalks, too many of them. into with the streets, they had a ard time getting through the crowd. they're hanging out of windows, on to top of balcony, any place they could be to get a better view of the president. this is in costa rica. the military's trying to help us get through the crowd. you're having a difficult time. you can pick out the president there, he's in a black suit amongst the crowd right here. so that's very difficult. this is in mexico city.
mexico city's quite high in elevation, but that's not snow. that's confetti. there was so much confetti that by the time we got to the end of the motorcade, the car was full in the backseat. this is in billings, montana. somebody had decided to pass their young child across the top of the crowd so that they could touch the president. something we tried to avoid. very dangerous. but it happened all the time. this is in berlin, germany. two young women have broken through the outer remmer the and tried to shake the president's hand. they're about to be pushed back into the crowd. this is the speech site in berlin. there were hundreds of thousands of people there. they were on top of buildings, on rooftop, on balconies and windows, every place they could be to, in order to see the president. >> and five secret service agents to protect the president in this kind of environment.
so we go into 1963. this was a trip planned into texas. it was meant to be two days, five cities. how did this trip all come about, clint, and why did they go to texas? >> well, it was actually three days. we were going to go to san antonio, houston, dallas and then out to the lbj ranch. the trip was planned in the spring of 1963 in a meeting down in el paso, texas, between president kennedy, vice president johnson and governor connolly. in 1960 the election was very, very close, so they knew that when in 1964 -- to win in 1964, they had to carry some states in the south. that pay picked -- they picked two, florida and texas, and decided they would campaign in those two states. on november 16th, president kennedy went to florida. then on -- and he went to cape canaveral, palm beach, tampa and miami. then he came back to washington.
then they planned to leave on thursday, november 21, for texas. mrs. kennedy was going to go along. >> and so that's the reason you went on this trip, is because mrs. kennedy was on the trip. >> correct. >> so take us through that first morning as you're at the white house. how does the day begin? >> well, the president had an early morning appointment there with two ambassadors from the united states to a couple countries in africa. that was the only appointment he had before we were going to leave. when we came down from the second floor residence, he passed by my offices, stuck his head in and said, clint, he said, we're going to take john with us on the helicopter out to andrews. i said, yes, mr. president, i'll have the agents alerted. so that's what we did. we flew out of the white house in a helicopter and flew to andrews air force base. mrs. kennedy, the president and young john were onboard. we got to andrews, and they were about to get off the helicopter and go to air force one, and
young john wanted to go along. well, he couldn't go, so he had to go back to the white house, and he got very upset. he started to cry, so the president and mrs. kennedy tried to console him. they told him, look, john, we'll be back to celebrate your birthday next monday, november 25th. that didn't seem to satisfy him. so the president turned to agent foster and said, mr. foster, will you take care of john while i'm gone? and he said, mr. foster said, yes, mr. president. and so that was the last thing that we heard the president say to young -- in john's presence, that he would be back and that he wanted agent foster to look after him until he got back. then the president boarded air force one, and we flew on down to san antonio, texas. we arrived down there. there was a large crowd at the airport. thousands of people had lined the airport, including on top of the terminal, inside the glass terminal. they were everywhere they could be in order to see the president and mrs. kennedy. fortunately, on this particular
occasion the president avoided going into the crowd. he got right into the car, and we began a motorcade from san antonio international airport out to the new medical space center, medical laboratory. >> so the president's in an open-top car. the weather is great, and everything is going wonderful. what are we seeing in this photograph? >> very typical situation, the president decided to stop the motorcade to allow people to come shake his hand. he asked us to do that periodically as we were traveling down the street. and that's what you see here, the crowd is trying to rush to the presidential vehicle. then we went down through downtown san antonio, and here you see people on the street and on balconies and hanging out of windows everywhere they could be to see the president and mrs. kennedy. we get to an airport again out at kelly field in order to leave the area, and another large crowd with help from some of the military mp bes. >> and then you fly to houston.
>> we get to houston international airport and another immense crowd there. all these crowds were very larges very exuberant, but they were all very, very friendly. the atmosphere was very friendly as we traveled through san antonio into houston. we went from houston downtown to the rice hotel -- >> let's -- this photograph, now, we see them going into the crowd here which they didn't do in san antonio, right? >> no. because of the way the crowd was contained in san antonio, president couldn't get at 'em. in this case they were too close, so he had the opportunity to approach the crowd, and that's what he liked to do. he liked to get into a crowd, shake hands and have some one-on-one with individuals within that crowd. they went into the rice hotel, and there was a meeting of the -- [inaudible] group which is a spanish-speaking group, and the president and mrs. kennedy went there, and he had mrs. kennedy talk to them. and she spoke to them in spanish. and he was extremely happy with this because he could see the
reaction among the people. they were very happy that they were there and that she had spoke to them in their native language. we then went out to the coliseum. they had a testimonial dinner for congressman albert thomas who had brought the space center to houston. the people were very excited about that. then we motorcaded out to air force one, got back onboard and flew over to fort worth, texas, arriving there around 3 1:-- 11:05 at night. it was raining. there were thousands of people there. families with children. and i couldn't understand that. 3 1:05 at night, raining with children? i got pretty jaded, apparently, because i was always around the president. but then i realized this was their once this a lifetime opportunity to see a president, and they took advantage of it. the crowd at the hotel when we got into downtown fort worth was so large, we had a tough time
getting through the crowd to get into the hotel. we took them up to the eighth floor and put them in the suite that they were to occupy that night. >> so all of that happened the first day, november 21st. the reception in texas was so enthusiastic, so -- everybody was so exuberant, and from a political standpoint, they were thrilled. >> the politicians had underestimated the reaction they were going to receive, and they were very, very pleased with how everything had happened. and so were president and mrs. kennedy. when we put them in the suite that night, they were very pleased with everything that had gone on that day. >> and they fully expected the next day was going to be as wonderful. friday, november 22,1963. you found out something was going on in dallas. you were going to be flying from fort worth to dallas that morning. >> we woke up in fort worth. it was raining. but we woke up with knowledge that a leaflet had been passed around to people over in dallas,
and is it said wanted for treason with a photograph of the president. there also was a large article in the local newspaper in dallas criticizing the president on all the policy decisions he had made. it was very anti-kennedy. .. policies that had been made. it was very anti-kennedy. and so the president made a comment to mrs. kennedy that morning, saying that i want to know one thing. we are headed into not country today. and so he was fully aware of the problems that existed in dallas. >> but the secret service. did you have any specific threats in dallas? were there threats against his life? >> we had no threat information whatsoever regarding our trip to dallas. the only thing was a month earlier at least evenson had gone to dallas to make a speech and he was heckled and spat on and they had a litle lack
but we didn't believe that anyone would try to be foolish enough to try and be that close to the president. and thus far we were looking forward to this because we thought it would be similar to the experiences we had the previous day. >> so you wake up in the morning and outside of the hotel, before dawn people have already started to gather. is drizzling lightly. you see in this photograph it will have brought their young children out in the rain before dawn. what was this all about? >> this was an unscheduled stop that they had to add this particular speech site to the itinerary because there was a breakfast being held inside the hotel we were staying in. but it only could hold 2500 people and there were thousands of people who wanted to see them. so they set up another site outside in the parking lots of people could be there and he could address them. it was raining. the president came out. didn't wear a raincoat.
everybody else had the ranger on, and he spoke to the ground. there were thousands of people there. you will notice the windows on the buildings are open. people are hanging out. on rooftops as well. the president spoke to all these people for a while and went right into the crowd. to shake hands which is very typical of the way he liked to operate. >> you can see some the agents around. there's again a handful of agents that are there to guard him come all very close to him in this situation. >> always relied on the local authorities for most of our support and they always did a wonderful job. so then the president went into the hotel to speak the 2500 people packed for a breakfast program. he walked in there and he went to the head table, sat down. i had gone over to the presidential suite on the eighth floor to my room which is light -- right next to the president
zuma. mrs. kennedy indicated to me on her schedule she was not going to go to this breakfast. her schedule said on the bottom, jackie will not attend. so we anticipated that should go directly from the hotel to the airport. however, the president noticed that everybody was clamoring to see mrs. kennedy. so when he got down to the breakfast he called the advanced age and over and said, call clint, tell him to bring mrs. kennedy down right now. so i got a phone call from the presidential suite telling me that the president wanted mrs. kennedy down there. tried to explain to me that was not her itinerary. he said, you don't seem to understand. the president said bring mrs. kennedy down to the breakfast. i said i understand. i hope she will. and i explained it to her, and we came down to the breakfast. she was a little miscued, but she made down to the breakfast. >> there you are leading her into this breakfast.
you don't look so happy in this photo. >> know. i wasn't very pleased. >> everybody was thrilled that mrs. kennedy came to the breakfast. she got a standing ovation. all the ladies had come to see your especially common everything went very smoothly. and then from there you are heading back to the airport, because now you're going to fly to dallas. this was the scene. >> yes. we left the hotel by motorcade to go to the air force base. there were thousands of people who lined the streets as we left. they had dismissed the school. fayette high school band that almost every intersection here it was a glorious day for the people of fort worth to see the president and mrs. kennedy. we were very pleased with the reception that they received. >> you were going to take air force one from fort worth to dallas. it's a very short distance. it doesn't seem to make sense at all. why did you fly from fort worth to dallas instead of driving? >> well, it wouldn't make any
sense to most people. because of the distance. it would be much quicker to drive. but this was a political situation and they wanted a photograph of president and mrs. kennedy coming off the rear of air force one in dallas. and so that's what they got. here they are going to come down the rear ramp, going to be met by a larger reception committee, including vice president and mrs. johnson, who they had just seen 10 minutes before over in fort worth. but that was politics. so there was a large crowd gathered behind a fence line. president noticed them, immediately went to that crowd to shake hands. mrs. kennedy normally wouldn't do that. she joined in and went to the crowd as well. they shook hands and they walked down the line. photographers were having a field day. they were climbing on everything they could get up on to get a good photo.
the announcers on the radio stations and tv stations were going crazy with what was going on here with the president being received so well from the people of dallas. we started into downtown dallas. the crowds were built largely from very few as very many as we can see as we get into the city. you'll notice there are some points where it was difficult to get through the crowd. the driver of the presidential victor was keeping the car father -- farther to the left hand side because the president was in the right where and just to keep away from the crowd. at mrs. kennedy was in the leftt rear and output are right next to the ground. occasionally i would get up on the back of the car. to be as close proximity to her as i could be to prevent anything from happening. we have been told the president didn't want us on the back of the car. that it happened on previous weekend in tampa, but i knew what my job was i did get up on the back of the car. car. i would answer to him later if
he had any questions. >> that looks a little bit precarious and uncomfortable. what was a like jumping off the follow-up car and getting onto the back of the presidents are? >> well, the most difficult thing is jumping off at a speed from a fixed platform on the sheet when you already moving at a certain speed. you have to have your body going about the same speed the car was in order to make it work. but there was a little platform on the back of the bunker where you see i have my feet on and there's a handle on top of the trunk. so that was the position i was in. we traveled down the street and the crowds get bigger and bigger. right into the street. they were on balconies, on fire escapes, hanging out the windows. every place they could find a spot. there you see i am up on the back of the car. he was in a close we are to the left inside as opposed to the right hand side of the street and that was the way we traveled down main street in dallas. in this shot is, goes into main
street as we traveled down that area. also was a cover photo of our book. and he we go. we have to turn right on houston when they got to the end of main street and then take a left on elm street. >> at this point you can see the crowds have really dissipated. so this is sort of the end of the motorcade, most of the crowds were on main street and you are heading into an area called dealey plaza. >> yes. we are coming down main street and we turned right on houston and had to make a very sharp turn, left hand turn on elm street. right in front of the texas bookstore depository. a lot of people say why didn't you go straight down main street? we couldn't because we had to go right willie got underneath the triple underpass in order to get on the freeway. if we're gone straight down main street we couldn't get across that concrete divider. so we had to go right on houston, left on l. street to make it work, getting to the
free will on her way to the trademark. spinks of this is a photo of you on l. street to give turn onto elm street and explained where you are and do these people we are seeing in this photo spent this is called the follow-up car. it's the car in italy behind the presidential vehicle. i'm in the forward position. there is a get mcintyre and ager landis my assistant was opposite agent mcintyre. there was one other agent in the back of the car. he had an ar-15 rifle. he was in a position between two of the president needs -- president aids. making sure everything was going okay. the car was driven by an agent and there was an agent in the right front seat. as we proceed down elm street, we were down there about 120 feet. we slowed down considerably because of the sharp turn. but as we got down to about
120 feet, i was scanning the area to the left and straight ahead. and all of the sudden i heard this explosive noise over my right shoulder. came from the rear. so i immediately, my eyes went to the skinny position to the left all the way to the right towards the noise, towards the explosion but he only got as far as the president score. i saw what happened in the back seat. all of all of the sudden the prt made a motion with his hands up against his throat and he moved by lovely to his left. i knew something was wrong. something had happened. i jumped for my position and ran toward the presidential vehicle with the intent to get on top of the rear of the presidents carved to form a shield or a barrier to protect president and mrs. kennedy from anything else happening. when i jumped off the car i had to get between the motorcycle officer and the follow-up car. the motorcycle was making a lot of noise. later, they told me there was a
second shot when i was in that position. i didn't even hear it because of the noise. but as i approached the presidential vehicle just as i was approaching it, there was a third shot. the president's head was down to his left and he was leaning over towards mrs. kennedy because he had a back brace on and he couldn't bend forward and they couldn't go to the right because of the side of the car. so they had to go to his left with his head down. when the shot rang out, it hit the president in the rear of the head here and get exited out the right rear quadrant. it was very explosive. material just erupted from that wound. there was brain matter and blood and bone fragments that came out of that over the trunk, over me, over mrs. kennedy. when that happened, mrs. kennedy came up on the trunk of the car. she was trying to retrieve some of that material that came out of the president said, trying to gather it together. she didn't know i was there. i got a hold of her and i put
her in the back seat. when i did that, the president's body fell farther to its olympic his head ended up in her lap. the right side of his face was up to agassi that his eyes were fixed. there was a whole through his skull. i could see there was no brain matter left in the general pigott i assumed assumed it was a fatal wound. i turned. i gave a thumbs down to the other agents to make sure they knew how serious it was. ice cream at the driver to get us to a hospital and the accelerated immediately, and we raced up and down the freeway led by the chief of police from dallas. we got speed up the around 80 miles an hour. you will see that shortly. >> now come it took clamped longer, way longer together what happened than the amount of time that this all developed. it was just a matter of seconds and have to remember when that first shot rings out your brain
has to process what to do. and so the the timer stops when it first shot happens. we're going to show you the zapruder from now but it's been edited slightly. the fatal headshot has been cut out and the reason we did it is because abraham zapruder took the film was so horrified when he took u the some and he never, he thought no one should ever see that, and so we don't see that but this is to show you how quickly things developed. >> weekend in houston and turn left on the elm. we were led by so motorcycle. you see the presidential car coming here. as he gets to about this point he is hit for the first time. he raises his hands up and then the fatal shots and i climb up on the back of the car. i wedged myself up there and got as high as i could. we were traveling at excessive rates of speed. i turn my head and my sunglasses blew off. at one point mrs., who was he
right in front mrs. kennedy moved and i could see that the governor was covered in blood for knew he had also been shot. that was the first time i knew that. we raced to parkland hospital. this is seen as after we had arrived. when we arrived there, there was nobody there. we arrived and we had to move the governor out of the car before we did anything with the president because of the way the car was configured. he was sitting in the jump seat right in front of the president. we finally got him up on a journey and rushed him into the bridges room, putting and trauma room to. then we went to help the president. mrs. kennedy had a hold of him and she wouldn't let go. i played with it. i said, please, mrs. kennedy, let us hope the president. no response. i did it again. still no response. i had been with her for a little over four years so i knew pretty much how she thought, and i realized the problem was she didn't want anybody to see the condition he was in. because it was horrible. so i took off my suit coat.
i covered up his head and his upper back. as soon as i did that she let go. and we put it on the gurney and raced them into the trauma room to in the emergency room. hundreds of doctors were in the hospital at the time and many of them reacted and came immediately to the emergency room, trying to do everything they could to resuscitate the president. >> and so you're inside. outside, the press has gathered. most of the press was in the vehicle several cars behind. they knew something had gone terribly wrong. they are trying to gather information. meanwhile, you're inside. you are told or you decided that you need to contact the white house immediately and let them know what's happening. what was that phone call like? >> i opened the line to washington to my supervisor except with the situation was. i was in the process of talking when the telephone operator cut in and said, mr. hill, the attorney general wants to talk to you.
i said, okay fine. so the attorney general is robert kennedy. the president's brother. so he said, what's going on down there? i told them about what had happened, tried to explain that both the present and the governor had been shot and we were in the emergency room at parkland hospital, that the doctors were working on them. and he said, how bad is it? well, i didn't want to tell him that his brother was dead. so i simply said that it's as bad as it can get. and when i said that, all i heard was the click of the phone as he hung up, and he found out in that way that his brother had been killed. >> meanwhile, many of you might have been at home. and this is probably how you heard the news. [inaudible] there is a bulletin from cbs news in dallas, texas, three shots were fired at president
kennedy's motorcade in downtown dallas. the first report says that president kennedy has been seriously wounded following the shooting. president kennedy shot today just as an motorcade left downtown dallas. mrs. kennedy jumped up and grabbed mr. kennedy she called oh, no. the motorcade sped on. the united press says that the wounds could perhaps be fatal. repeating, president kennedy has been shot by a would be assassin in dallas, texas. stay tuned to cbs news for further details. >> we have more in the newsroom. perhaps you know now, president kennedy was wounded and automate little driving from downtown dallas along with governor calmly of texas and was taken to parparking hospital there where their condition is yet unknown.
we have not been told their condition at dallas in a downtown hotel room, a group has been gathered to hear president kennedy awaiting his arrival. let's switch down there now. >> as you can imagine there are many stories coming in now as to the actual condition of the president. one is that he is dead. this cannot be confirmed. and that is that governor calmly is in the operating room. this has not yet been confirmed. >> from dallas, texas, apparently it is official, president kennedy died at 1 p.m. central standard time. 2:00 eastern standard time. some 38 minutes ago. >> fifty years later, it's still just as moving as when you heard the news. clint, you're inside. you don't know what's being broadcast. you are dealing with the chaos
there at parkland hospital. >> yes. they were doing everything they could to try to resuscitate him but at 1:00 the doctor came out and said we can't do anything more. the president is dead. and so when that happened, the president's closest aide kenny on talking to me and said clint, we need a casket to transport the president's body back washington. i said fine, i'll seed what i can do. i arranged to the administrator of the hospital to contact the funeral home in dallas in order to schmidt and ordered the best casket they had to be delivered to the emergency room for the president. it was delivered. the nurses began to prepare the body to be placed into the casket. then we found out that the people in texas decided that we needed to have an autopsy done in dallas before we could leave. you have to understand that at that time, 1963, it was not a federal crime to kill the president. it was a state crime. and so the state law in texas
prevails. and so they told us they would have to do the autopsy there. we asked them how long it would take. they said hours, maybe a day. we said that's not acceptable. we need to take the president back to the nation's capital. we can have the autopsy done there, and they said that's a violation of state law. there was some additional discussion between my supervisor and the president's chief aide and members of the authorities there in dallas. and we finally said, well, we are leaving anyway. and they said well, if you're going to do that, we have a medical professional remain with the president through the entire process. i volunteered and with george berkeley to do that. he was the president's position and he was with us. and so the place the president's body and the casket. we brought the casket out to the hearse. berkeley got into the rear of the hearse with the casket.
i brought out mrs. kennedy and said, we can write in this car right back year, she said no. i'm going to ride in the hearse with the president. and so i said okay. so i opened the door and said -- i climbed in behind her. there we were on the way to love field in the hearse. the casket in the back of the hearse with admiral berkeley and mrs. kennedy and me. and that's the way we went to love field in dallas. >> so then you get to love field and now the agents have the horrible, unbelievable task of having to carry the casket of the president who they were supposed to protect up to air force one. >> yes. the air force one crew had removed a bunch of the seats in the back of the aircraft so we could place the casket there. we started to carry the casket up the rear stairway, which is
actually heavy and very difficult. we got up to the top of the steps that were about to go through the backdoor and found that the casket with the handles on it were too wide. so we broke the handles off. we put it in the rear of the aircraft and said it on the floor. mrs. kennedy then came on board and sat next to the casket. with larry o'brien, kenny o'donnell and dave powers, and when one agent stay there with her. i moved to the forward part of the aircraft to do some other tasks. >> and so than vice president johnson needed to be sworn in on the ground there. he found a federal judge but before the swearing-in, mrs. kennedy wanted to tell you something. >> yes. before the swearing in germany began i get word that mrs. kennedy wanted to see me. so i went back to the presidential suite to where she was seated. she stood up, she grabbed my hand, she said oh, mr. hill, what's going to happen to you now? she was very concerned about how i was reacting to what happened.
she knew that the administration would now change from the kennedy administration to the johnson administration, and she was very concerned about where my next assignment would be. i was just shocked that she would think about that at the time because i knew she was going to have to stand beside vice president and just a few moments for this photograph. she was still covered in blood. she hadn't done a thing, just -- to change that and i went back to my position in the front part of the plane right behind the doorway there, standing there as she stood beside vice president johnson as he was sworn in as the next president of the united states. >> and then you were with him on air force one on that long, somber ride back to andrews air force base. again, you and the other agents help unload the casket and take it to bethesda hospital. >> yes we took it out to
bethesda naval hospital, took it there because he was a former naval officer and they decide that's where the autopsy would be performed. the autopsy lasted most of the night, and then about 2:00 in the morning i got a telephone call. i was up on the 17th floor with mrs. kb. we had a suite of their so friends and family could be with her while we waited for the autopsy to be completed. they called me and asked me to come down to the autopsy room. they wanted me to observe the president's body just before they finished, so that if the questions were ever asked by mrs. kennedy, i would be able to answer them as to the exact condition of body was in at the time that the president was placed into the casket. >> so then it was about 4:30 a.m. when finally you were able to go back to the white house. >> we got back to the white house about 4:30 as you say.
we were met by a military group to escort us to the north room and then the military carried the president's body into the east room, placed it on a catapult in the room identical to the one used for abraham lincoln and agency to fight. mrs. kennedy and members of the county where there. came in and stood as the honor guard were posted around the presidential casket. >> what time did you finally get to go? >> sheet remainder a few minutes, an then went upstairs o the socket the residents. i went downstairs to my office which is on the ground floor. and i stayed there until about 6:00 to make sure she had no other needs, and then i went to my home. shaved, showered, got a little bit of something to eat and change clothes and came back to work. >> because not this time all of the other agents have transferred the president johnson. remember, there are two agents with mrs. kennedy. there's nobody there to replace them. there is no other shift. so clint and his associate paul
landis went home as he said, shaved, showered, came back. they had to be with mrs. can be. so what happened that day, saturday? >> saturday the 23rd, there was a private mass in the east room for the family. then mrs. kennedy called me and said that she wanted to go to arlington national cemetery. she and the president's brother, robert kennedy and two of his sisters, pat kennedy and jean kennedy smith were going to go with mrs. kennedy to pick out the burial site. and so i took them to arlington national cemetery. met there by secretary mcnamara and we picked up the graveside for president kennedy. >> and at this point basically the world had stopped. stores were closed. people were sent to the children were sent home. people were watching television for the first time ever. television news was broadcasting 24 hours constantly without commercial. it had never been done before.
everybody was just in shock, and this resonated around the world. this is a vigil in berlin, because this president has touched people around the world. sunday, november 24, 1963. >> that morning, there was going to be another mass in the east room, and then we're going to take the body up to the u.s. capitol where it would lie in state in the rotunda. i had gone over to my supervisor's office and was sitting there talking to him. the phone rang. i was told the president assistant wanted to talk to me. so i picked up the phone and he said you better come over to the main residence right away because mrs. kennedy wants to see the president. i said okay, i will be right there. i ran over to the east room where she was. she was standing in the doorway with robert kennedy. i said what do you want to do, mrs. kennedy? she said, robert kennedy and i want to use the president's
body. i said, okay, just a moment. general mckeague and i went in. we make sure everything was okay. we opened the casket and got it ready. and then brought in mrs. kennedy and robert kennedy to view the president's body. they stood there for a few, maybe a minute come and she turned to me and she said, mr. hill, would you get me a pair of scissors, please. i said yes men. iran back to the ushers office and got a pair of scissors, brought them in, gave into her. stood there and heard the clip, clip, clip. i knew what she was doing. robert kennedy and mrs. kennedy then backed away from the casket and turned and started to walk towards the elevator to take into the second floor. she handed me the scissors and they went up to the second floor. i returned the scissors to the ushers office and i notice that there were some particles of air still left on the scissors. >> so now they're going to take the president's body by
motorcade on a case on to the capital. .. capital. and as we showed you in the photographs before all this happened, there were always crowds and people screaming and hollering and shouting and we were working on this book. one of the most painful things that clinton says from this time is that that possession to the capital, there were no screens screams were shouts or chairs. there was only this sound. [drums beating] [drums beating]
[drums beating] [drums beating] >> we got into the rotunda, and mrs. kennedy, caroline and john were there. at one point john got a little rambunctious, so we had to take him off to another room away from where the crowd was. then mrs. kennedy and caroline approached the casket, walked over and knelt and kissed the flag that draped the casket. they got up, and we left the rotunda. and then we walked outside. we noticed that there were hundreds of thousands of people who had gathered. they wanted to view the
president's casket. and so this went on for the rest of that day, all night. they finally had to turn them off at nine in the morning because we were going to move the president's body back to have the funeral service, but there were still thousands of people lined up who wanted to view the president's casket. >> so on monday, november 25, 1963, 50 years ago today -- >> it was 50 years ago today, and it was john f. kennedy jr.'s third birthday. but it was also his father's funeral. and so we went to the capitol. the body was placed on the case, brought back to the white house. we went by automobile and back, and we got back to the white house, and we were met by hundreds of heads of state who had come to washington to pay their respects. including president de gaulle from france, the emperor from
ethiopia, the president of ireland, the president of germany, the president of italy, the queen from greece, the king of belgium. they were all there to pay their respects. mrs. kennedy made a desire known, and that was that she wanted to walk on part of his procession, and so we talked her into just walking from the white house to st. matthews. and so here you see she's walking with her two brothers-in-law, robert and teddy kennedy. i'm on the left in this photograph. beside me is mrs. kennedy's half brother, stepbrother, rather. then sergeant shriver and steve smith and then hidden behind teddy kennedy is agent landis. agents surrounding them walking on the way to st. matthews
cathedral. >> so you walked, it was about a mile and a quarter. imagine all these heads of state out in the open, the president has just been shot, and this is just a security nightmare, if you can possibly imagine. >> it was that. >> the funeral was held then in st. matthews, and when you came out, john gave this infamous salute. tell us about this. you were there witnessing this. >> yes. we came out. they placed the body on the caseson in front of st. matthews, and the military renders the salute to the president. mrs. kennedy saw this, and she bent over and whispered something into john's ear, and john turned, threw his shoulders back and saluted his father. now, that wasn't a natural thing for young john. in very early november, mrs. kennedy came to me and said, mr. hill, the president's going to arlington national
cemetery on the 11th. while he's there, we know that the military is going to salute him as president. i would like john to go along, and i'd like to have him be able to salute his father as well. do you think the agents could teach him how to salute? i said, sure, mrs. kennedy, that's no problem. we'll do that. so the agents started to work with john. trying to get him to salute. trouble was, he'd only do it with his left hand. and that went on for a long time. finally, on november 11th when he went to arlington with his father, he did it properly, and everybody was so relieved and pleased, couldn't believe he'd finally got the message. well, on this day, on november 25th, during the services john got a little rambunctious again, and mrs. kennedy turned and asked that one of the agents come and take him to another room, and they did. so we were trying to keep him busy, so they'd thought they'd have him practice his salute.
so they were working with him, and he was right back to using his left hand. he just would not use his right hand. there's a marine colonel standing in the doorway, and he saw this. and he walked into the room, he stood at attention, he saluted properly, and he said, john, this is how you do it. and i'll be damned, it took that colonel 15 seconds to show john, and he did it properly. we'd been working with him for weeks to nothing. [laughter] so just shows you, sometimes those marine colonels know what they're doing. we then traveled from arlington national -- or to arlington national cemetery from st. matthews. but before that, two of the people who were there at the funeral and paying their respects were former presidents truman and eisenhower. truman with his daughter margaret and former president eisenhower with his wife, mamie. then we went to arlington
national cemetery, crossed the memorial bridge near the lincoln memorial to thousands of people. they had lined the streets all the way from arlington national cemetery back to the u.s. capitol. there were hundreds of thousands of people who came to washington for this funeral. we got to the cemetery, and here you see president de gaulle saluting along with the emperor and the various heads of state there. the flag was then folded. it was presented to mrs. kennedy. we then went back to the white house where mrs. kennedy held a reception for all those heads of state that had come to see her and pay their respects to the presidentment meanwhile -- president. meanwhile, i'm told mrs. kennedy -- i told mrs. kennedy, i hope you remember that a today is john's third birthday, and she did, and they had a little birthday party after this reception upstairs this the white house. it was just john, caroline and
their cousins and members of the family, but it was something that they had promised john when they left that previous thursday. they told him we'll be back monday to celebrate your birthday. and she did. that night, it was after 11:00, phone rang, and it was mrs. kennedy. she said, mr. hill, the attorney general and i want to go back to the cemetery to pay our respects and to see the eternal flame. i said, okay. we're standing by, we're ready to go. so she and the attorney general came down, and we took them to arlington. she brought a small bouquet of flowers with her, they knelt at the grave and prayed for a but minutes. we stayed there 10, 12 minutes or so and then went back to the white house. but that was the end of november 25th, the fifth day in five days in november. >> and, clint, i know for many, many years you couldn't even bear to talk about this with
anyone. it's been emotional, very emotional writing this book, but i think for a lot of people it's healing. it's been a sense of closure to know what really happened that day, to know the truth, and we are so thankful that you shared your story. thank youment. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you. if any of you have any questions, feel free to ask a question. please raise your hand. yes, go ahead. >> [inaudible] >> repeat the question. >> do i think the fact that he was wearing a back brace, if he had not been wearing it, would he have lived? i don't know. there's no way to tell that, but it would have given him a chance
to duck anyway, but the back brace prevented him from moving forward, so the only way he could go when he moved was to his left. >> yes, sir. >> mr. hill, i always wondered why you were the only agent that reacted. [inaudible] why no one else -- >> right. >> the question is why was mr. hill the only agent that reacted? >> one of the photographs shows that pretty much. when the first shot was fired and rang out and we realized what it was, i turned toward that noise, and i saw what happened in the backseat of the car. the agent behind me, his vision of the president's car was obscured by my body. the two agents on the other side of the car also turned toward the noise which meant they turned away from the president's car. by the time they turned back, i was already at the presidential car, and there was nothing more that they could do. >> yes, sir.
>> [inaudible] >> the night before, well, i'll tell you exactly what happened the night before. i'll tell you this, we left washington that morning on november 21st, and we flew to san antonio and were served a nice light lunch on air force one on the way to san antonio. then we flew to houston, then we flew to fort worth, and we didn't eat or do anything. we got to fort worth, we put president and mrs. kennedy on their feet, and i went off the floor at 1:00, and i was hungry at hell, and i was tired. i hadn't eaten anything since noon. so i went down to the lobby, and there were other agents with me, and the head of the white house press corps was there. and he said if you guys want to get something to eat, why don't you come with us, we're going over to the press club. so we went over to the press club. the press club where there was supposed to be food.
there wasn't any food. they had eaten it all up. so i had a drink myself when i was over there, and then they said there was a place down the street where they might have something to eat. we walked down there, they didn't have any food either. and so then i went back to my room, went to bed, placed a call to wake me up at 6:00, ordered breakfast to be served in my room which was eggs, bacon, potatoes, orange juice, toast and coffee -- you wanted to know -- [laughter] and that's the only nourishment i had that whole night. there was no carousing, there was no partying, there were some guys like myself, we were damn hungry. >> yes, sir. >> mr. hill -- [inaudible] have you seen the oliver stone movie, "jfk," and what's your reaction to that -- [inaudible] stone still admits that --
[inaudible] what do you think? >> the question is about the oliver stone "jfk." >> that movie has caused more problems than anything i can remember because it is so full of just bologna. there are so many things in it that are just not true. and he knows that. i happen to know one of the consul taxes that were working on -- consultants that were working on the film. he happened to be a detective. and he went to stone during the process of shooting that film and ask said, look, the things that you're putting in this movie aren't true. stone said, i know that, but this is a movie. it doesn't matter. i'm making a movie, i'm not doing a documentary. and so he didn't care. and it was just full of erroneous information, and it's unfortunate because most of the young people that saw that movie at that time believe that that
was true, and it was not. now, there have been other movies that have come out that are almost as bad, if not worse in this some respects. very few are actually factual. >> over here. yes, sir. >> well, thank you again. [inaudible] parkland hospital -- [inaudible] >> during, in parkland hospital where was mrs. kennedy and what was happening and where was the vice president? >> they had taken the vice president into another section of the hospital and sealed that off. not too far from the emergency room, so we knew where he was, and we could get information to him. mrs. kennedy and mrs. connolly were in the area between trauma room one and trauma room two, but mrs. kennedy periodically would go into trauma room one to be there to observe what was going on. but as they were both seated out
there, it was a small walkway between the two rooms, and they were both right in that vicinity. >> and agent landis was always with mrs. kennedy while clint was on the phone, somebody was always with her. yes. >> [inaudible] the funeral and had the party for. john-john, where were you 50 years ago 7 p.m.? >> 7 p.m. 50 years ago i was in the white house in my office on the ground floor waiting to see whatever mrs. kennedy needed, standing by. >> [inaudible] >> birthday party was going on, and that was on the second floor, and we allowed that to be very private and family only. and that's the way they wanted it. did you have another question? >> [inaudible] >> first of all, thank you for your service. >> thank you. >> american hero, as far as i'm concerned. my question is about --
[inaudible] >> there's, the question is about agent george hickey. there's been a television program on and a book written claiming that george hickey, who was manning the ar-15 rifle in the follow-up car, that he accidentally shot the president, and that's what killed the president, and for some reason a lot of people are believing this. [laughter] >> george hickey way back years ago when he was still alive and this story came out in a book. he sued the publisher. the publisher didn't want to go to court because they found out we had photographic roof that hickey couldn't -- proof that hickey couldn't have done it. so they settled with hickey out of court. now hickey is dead. there's nobody left to sue. and so they sold this thing to a
production company, and some detective down this -- in australia put in his two cents, and they've resurrected that theory. it didn't happen. the gun, actually, that he was holding was examined after the motorcade. it had never been fired. hickey was seated -- or standing between two particular individuals, dave powers, president kennedy's probably closest associate personally, and kenny o'donnell, his chief of staff. if hickey had done what they've alleged, i can guarantee you those two irishmen would have killed him. [laughter] >> let's take one more question. yes, sir. >> [inaudible] what were your feelings when you learned of her passing and then, of course, of john kennedy's
death. >> the question is when was the last time you saw mrs. kennedy and what were your feelings when she passed and when john jr. passed. >> i saw her the last time was in june of 1968 at robert kennedy's funeral. i was at that time the agent this charge of presidential protection -- in charge of presidential protection, and i brought president johnson to the funeral. and i saw her and spoke to her very briefly, but that was the last time i saw her, and she got married that fall, as you know. now, what was the follow-up question? >> and what were your feelings when she passed away? >> that, when she passed away in may of 1994, it just so happened that day i was, had an appointment with president clinton. he had asked me to come, he wanted to talk to me in the oval office. and so i went there, and then that evening after after i went home i found out that her condition had worsened. we discussed, he and i, about how sick she was, and that night i found out that she had died.
i was very, very sad. i had really wanted to talk to her again, but i also knew that if she heard my voice, it was going to be a memory of what had happened back in dallas, and i didn't think that would really the thing to do. young john, when he was killed this that plane crash, it was a real shock and terrible because i was with him when he was born, and now to know that he had died in that manner, it was just terrible. so he would have been 53 years old today. >> and okay. two more questions, all right. yes. >> [inaudible] caroline said my mother was always -- [inaudible] >> did everybody hear that?
>> after reading the book, she gave -- >> this is our publisher, louise. thank you. [laughter] thank you. [applause] >> yes, that's true. >> a nice testament. >> caroline finally said that mrs. kennedy thought a lot of me and whatever i wanted to do, that was fine. she didn't have any problem with it. >> all right, last question. ma'am? >> [inaudible] >> you're asking about the writing process and how difficult it was? >> [inaudible] >> when he goes through -- well, it was very difficult. we had an office, we had two computers side by side. we spent almost 24 hours a day together for many months, and i didn't live through this time, so all of this is his memories.