Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published October 12 2011
At Concordia, former Secret Service agent talks about day JFK assassinated
Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, spoke to an overflow crowd.
The Washburn, N.D., native and 1954 Concordia graduate is receiving an Alumni Achievement Award this week.
Hill, 79, shared some lighter moments with the crowd of 800, such as the Secret Service agents’ efforts to teach toddler John Kennedy Jr. to salute with his right hand rather than his left.
He also spoke openly about Nov. 22, 1963, a day Hill didn’t talk to anyone about for decades following the assassination.
Hill received national recognition for “exceptional bravery” for jumping onto the presidential vehicle in an attempt to shield the Kennedys from more gunshots.
Journalist Lisa McCubbin, co-author of “The Kennedy Detail,” joined Hill onstage at Concordia.
Hill credited McCubbin with getting him to talk about the assassination, which Hill says has helped with the depression he suffered for years.
“It was like I was stuck in a dungeon. I couldn’t get out,” Hill said.
Hill and McCubbin also are collaborating on the book “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” due out this spring.
An audience member asked Hill which president he protected was the most difficult. Hill also served during the administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
“They’re all difficult, but all difficult in a different way,” Hill said. “They are just down-to-earth people. Some egos are a little bit bigger than others.”
Another asked about reports of President Kennedy’s infidelities.
“He never asked me about my sex life, and I never asked him about his, either,” said Hill, prompting laughter and applause.
Wednesday was the first time Hill returned to Concordia, where he excelled at football.
In attendance was Gordon Dahl, Hill’s college roommate, who came from Great Falls, Mont., to hear him speak.
Dahl was called out of class one day to be interviewed by two Secret Service agents who were doing a background check on Hill. Dahl said he followed Hill’s career over the years.
“It was a thrill to hear him tonight,” Dahl said. “I’m really proud of him.”
Mike Rehder of Fargo was born 11 years after Kennedy’s assassination, but considers himself a student of that day and has read many of the books.
“It’s still tough to grasp that it actually did happen,” Rehder said.
The crowd also included many of Hill’s relatives, including second-cousins Timothy Hill and Becky Long.
They had never met Hill before but had followed his career. Long remembered her parents always looking for Hill on TV.
Most who attended the event didn’t have a connection to Hill but wanted to hear about that historic day from someone who lived it.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590