Mrs. Kennedy and me by Clint Hill – A book review

2 Apr

Altgens' final photo taken just after the fata...

Altgens’ final photo taken just after the fatal shot shows Jackie Kennedy and Secret Service agent Clint Hill on the back of the Presidential limousine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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A picture showing the secret agent Clinton Hil... A picture showing the secret agent Clinton Hill nestling against the fastback of the presidential limousine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello faithful followers. I just finished reading this excellent book by Clint Hill. He is the Secret Service agent that was in charge of protecting Jackie Kennedy. He is also famous for being the first and only agent to react when President Kennedy was fatally shot in Dallas.  Clint writes about his initial disappointment of being assigned to protecting Mrs. Kennedy. He had previously protected President Eisenhower, and wanted to be assigned to President Kennedy’s detail. In time, he grew very fond of her, and enjoyed protecting her. He found her to be a fascinating woman, and writes about her desire for privacy. At first, Mrs. Kennedy didn’t like the idea of having  Secret Service protection, but when  Clint explained to her that the agents would not get in her way, and would allow her within reason, some flexibility to do the things that she enjoyed, like horseback riding, and water skiing, she was content.  He was always just a few feet away from her should someone try to harm her.  While she and Clint maintained a professional relationship, he couldn’t help but feel like a family member after spending so much time with her and the President, including Christmas, and Thanksgiving holidays. Growing up as an only child, he enjoyed watching the closeness of the Kennedy family, which included Bobby and Ted’s children.  He writes about their trips to Greece, and several other countries, and how much people everywhere adored her. Clint became fond of her children, so it is no surprise that he grieved when Mrs. Kennedy had 2 miscarriages.  He eventually interacted with the President since he became the SAIC  (special agent in charge) of Mrs. Kennedy along with one other agent.  He writes about her likes and dislikes, and her desire  to go out in public as a normal citizen. She loved to shop, and eventually that became a big problem, as crowds formed to get a glimpse of her. At her request, Clint found himself shopping for her and doing other errands that were not in his job description, yet he didn’t mind. The hardest part of the book to read was that November day in Dallas, when the President was shot. Clint was the agent that ran and jumped onto  the back of the car, and pushed Mrs. Kennedy down in the seat,  covering  both she and the President who had been fatally shot by that time. Looking at the President’s head wound, he signaled back to the other agents in the follow-up car with a hands down gesture, that he was critically wounded. He pounded the trunk of the car in frustration and anger, while tears rolled down his cheeks.   He lived with a tremendous amount of guilt for many years after that. He felt that if he had been just a few seconds sooner, that he may have taken the bullet for the President, thus saving his life.  He writes about retiring from the service, and spending time withdrawn in his basement, with only alcohol and cigarettes for company. He ends the book with the news that Jackie Kennedy was dying from cancer, and how much he would miss her. The book is a fascinating read, with an  inside look into one of the most famous, and adored families. I highly recommend this book. I understand that Clint is working on a second book about the Kennedy family. I can’t wait to read it.

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