JFK’s bodyguard Clint Hill ‘couldn’t break down’ as he accompanied the president’s body to Washington, sitting alongside a heartbroken Jackie Kennedy, a landmark documentary revealed 60 years since the shocking murder.
Mr. Hill, now 91, was in the Secret Service car just behind the president’s limousine, which also carried John Connally and his wife Nellie.
After the motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository, Lee Oswald – who was hiding in a sixth-floor window – shot the president.
One shot hit him in the neck, while another, fatal shot, hit him in the head.
Decades after Kennedy’s death, Mr Hill, who jumped into a moving car to protect the First Lady when the shots were fired, recalls how he stoically continued working as usual in the days who followed the murder, despite the shock he felt.
Speaking on One Day in America, a National Geographic documentary airing tonight, he said: “On that flight from Dallas to DC, there was time for grief – for anything – except keep doing the best job possible and that’s what I tried to do.
JFK’s bodyguard Clint Hill “couldn’t break down” while accompanying the president’s body to Washington, he revealed in the new National Geographic documentary, One Day in America.
This colorized archival image shows Secret Service Agent Paul Landis (far left) standing near President John F. Kennedy as he arrives at Love Field in Dallas, November 22, 1963.
This colorized archival image shows Dallas police officers and detectives observing a moment of silence for their murdered colleague, JD Tippit, who was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.
“Mrs Kennedy was in shock. She cried terribly, of course she was a brand new widow with two children. Now this is all that remains of this family.
“Bobby Kennedy ran all the way up the front steps of the plane and all the way down the plane to where Mrs. Kennedy was and the casket in the back and he was in tears. It was shocking, it was emotional but I couldn’t break down.
Meanwhile, former Secret Service agent Paul Landis, 88, also spoke about the profound impact being present at the president’s mission had on him.
Mr. Landis, who at the time was a young agent assigned to protect First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy, said: “I just cried, I think, the whole way home. I helped unload the coffin.
“We were tired, we’d had a long day with a lot to do and I hadn’t handled a lot of things very well. I know now I was in shock.
The new documentary features colorized footage, which shows Lee Harvey Oswald sitting in police custody and being shot while being transferred to the field prison.
Throughout the three-part series, local reporter Bill Mercer – who was to report that Oswald had been charged with the president’s murder – and Peggy Simpson, the only Associated Press employee in Texas in 1963, are interviewed.
Both recall their shock at discovering Oswold had been shot dead by nightclub owner Jack Ruby while in custody, with Mr Mercer claiming Jack had wanted to become a hero.
Killer Lee Harvey Oswald photographed after his arrest
Mr. Hill (seen standing, wearing sunglasses) was riding on one of the running boards of the Secret Service car just behind the president’s limousine, which was also carrying Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie.
Mr Hill was seen rushing to protect the president after the first shot, but did not reach him in time.
He said: “When I saw that Jack Ruby had shot Oswell I was shocked. I was sorry that he made such a mistake, that he made a serious mistake, which cannot be eradicated. This will go down in history.
“Jack did what he did. He wanted to be someone, everyone loved the president, so everyone hated the man who killed the president, so now that was going to make Jack a hero.
Ms Simpson added: “I was on the phone with the heads of the office and I heard the cops say it’s Jack Ruby and they say the cops know this guy, they say it’s Jack Ruby.
“And he said, ‘What? I’m drinking in his bar, how is that possible?’ He was a famous person, he wasn’t someone they expected to do harm.
The series was produced in official collaboration with the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
The first episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. on National Geographic.