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CLINT HILL, 1975


Don Roberdeau
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Good Day.... Quotes from an article about MIKE WALLACE's new book that also gives an excerpt of chapter one....

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4992445

<QUOTE>

Clint Hill

The flap over the Pearson interview [by WALLACE in 1957, where DREW PEARSON claimed that "Profiles in Courage" was ghostwritten] was my only contact with the illustrious politician who had been my boyhood neighbor. During the years when Kennedy was in the White House and leading us across the New Frontier, I had various assignments that took me to cities at home and abroad, but Washington was seldom one of them. Fact is, I was going through a series of twists and turns as I jumped around from one job to another, and I didn't settle down until March 1963, when I went to work for CBS News, which has been my professional home ever since. In September of that year, CBS launched a new midmorning news show, and I was assigned to anchor it; that's what I was doing on November 22, the day the shots rang out in Dallas.

Many of us who lived through the shock and the grief of that day were inclined to view the Kennedy assassination as a ghastly aberration, the kind of horrific deed that simply did not happen in a civilized society and would never occur again in our lifetime. That naive assumption was shattered by subsequent events, for instead of being an isolated tragedy, Kennedy's murder was the first in a wave of comparable assaults on political leaders that persisted over the next decade and beyond. The two most charismatic black leaders of the civil rights era were gunned down by assassins, Malcolm X in 1965 and Martin Luther King, Jr., three years later. And just two months after King was killed, a second Kennedy was slain in the midst of his own campaign for president. In 1972, at another campaign stop in another presidential race, Alabama governor George Wallace was shot. He survived that attack, but the wounds he suffered left him paralyzed for life. And in September 1975, President Gerald Ford was the target in California of two assassination attempts that took place within seventeen days of each other.

Every fresh act of violence rekindled memories of the first Kennedy assassination, and not long after the attempts on President Ford's life, I interviewed the Secret Service agent who had been assigned to Kennedy's car on that dreadful day in November 1963. His name was Clint Hill, and over the years he'd refused to talk in public about what had happened in Dallas, or about any other aspect of his work with the Secret Service. But Hill had been granted early retirement in the summer of 1975, and now that he was no longer on active duty, he agreed to appear on 60 Minutes to answer questions—for the first time—about the assassination he had witnessed from such close range.

In preparing for that interview, I learned that the shooting in Dallas had left Hill deeply troubled and stricken with guilt. Nonetheless, I was caught off guard by the raw, visceral anguish he displayed when I brought up the subject.

WALLACE: Can I take you back to November twenty-second in 1963? You were on the fender of the Secret Service car right behind President Kennedy's car. At the first shot, you ran forward and jumped on the back of the president's car—in less than two seconds—pulling Mrs. Kennedy down into her seat, protecting her. First of all, she was out on the trunk of that car—

HILL: She was out of the backseat of that car, not on the trunk of that car.

WALLACE: Well, she was— She had climbed out of the back, and she was on the way back, right?

HILL: And because of the fact that her husband's—part of his—her husband's head had been shot off and gone off to the street.

WALLACE: She wasn't— She wasn't trying to climb out of the car? She was—

HILL: No, she was simply trying to reach that head, part of the head.

WALLACE: To bring it back?

HILL: That's the only thing—

At that point, Hill broke down; tears streamed down his face. I sat in silence for a moment or two and then gently asked if he would prefer to move away from this painful memory and talk about something else. But he made it clear that he wanted to go on, and so, after he'd regained his composure, I continued to question him about that day.

WALLACE: Was there any way— Was there anything that the Secret Service or Clint Hill could have done to keep that from happening?

HILL: Clint Hill, yes.

WALLACE: "Clint Hill, yes"? What do you mean?

HILL: If he had acted about five-tenths of a second faster, or maybe a second faster, I wouldn't be here today.

WALLACE: You mean you would have gotten there and you would have taken the shot?

HILL: The third shot, yes, sir.

WALLACE: And that would have been all right with you?

HILL: That would have been fine with me.

WALLACE: But you couldn't. You got there in less than two seconds, Clint. You couldn't have gotten there. You don't—you surely don't have any sense of guilt about that?

HILL: Yes, I certainly do. I have a great deal of guilt about that. Had I turned in a different direction, I'd have made it. It's my fault.

WALLACE: Oh, no one has ever suggested that for an instant! What you did was show great bravery and great presence of mind. What was on the citation that was given you for your work on November twenty-second, 1963?

HILL: I don't care about that, Mike.

WALLACE: "Extraordinary courage and heroic effort in the face of maximum danger."

HILL: Mike, I don't care about that. If I had reacted just a little bit quicker, and I could have, I guess. And I'll live with that to my grave.

I've never interviewed a more tormented man. Hill's agony was so deep, so poignant, that I couldn't resist getting swept up by it, and there were times during our conversation when I could feel my own tears welling up. Many of our viewers were no less affected, as we learned from the letters that flooded into our office in the days following that broadcast.

In our interview, Hill said that a "neurological problem caused by what happened in the past" had prompted his doctors to urge him to accept retirement from the Secret Service at the still-youthful age of forty-three. When the camera wasn't rolling, he was even more candid. What our audience wasn't told was that he was suffering from severe depression.

In the years since our 1975 interview, I've inquired about Hill from time to time to see how he was doing and to pass along my best wishes. But I didn't have any direct contact with him again until the fall of 2003, when all the media were turning their attention to the fortieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. I wanted to know if Clint would be willing to revisit the subject in another interview with me. When I called him at his Virginia home just outside Washington, he greeted me warmly, and although he made it clear he did not want to talk any more about that day in Dallas, he assured me he was fine and that the misery he'd gone through was now behind him. He had finally managed to put his demons to rest, and he no longer blamed himself for the death of John F. Kennedy.

<END QUOTE>

Don Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, "Big John," Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly

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"Because of the photograph taken by AP photographer James Altgens seeming to show a rifle shaped object protruding from the second floor window of the Dal-Tex building, several Warren report critics (including myself) felt that was a probably a firing point for one or two shots. The committee has made available to me the original Altgens negative. Using my technique of vario-density eynexing, I was able to enhance the image in the window to the point of clarity where window is now identifiable as a black man leaning the window sill with both hands, and with no gun in view."

---- ROBERT GRODEN, his HSCA-documented comments about the panels report, 1979 http://jfkassassination.net/russ/infojfk/jfk6/grodn.htm

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