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November 22nd, 2013
05:46 PM ET

Clint Hill on "John-John"'s iconic salute: "He threw his shoulders back, and he saluted his father...I don't think there was a dry eye"

With Friday representing the precise 50 year anniversary of the assassination of then-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, this evening at 9 Piers Morgan speaks with a man who'll forever be associated with one of the most fatal dates in American history.

Secret service agent Clint Hill was riding in the car behind JFK's vehicle as part of the infamous Dallas, Texas motorcade, and upon hearing the gunshots, he instinctively rushed forward, jumping on the back of the president's vehicle in an attempt to offer protection.

Sadly, the gunshots that pierced Kennedy's head proved fatal, and the president was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Three days later, following a funeral mass in Washington DC, the nation was presented with one of the most iconic images in American history, as the president's son – "John-John" – raised his three-year-old hand to his temple, and upon his mother's urging, saluted his father's casket:

"That's one of the photograph's that really reminds me how sad the occasion was," remembers Hill. "That happened to be the day of the president's funeral, but it also was young John's third birthday. And he had learned how to salute ... he threw his shoulders back, and he saluted his father. And I don't think there was a dry eye, from the highest-ranking general, to the lowest private."

Following Kennedy's assassination, Hill spent an additional year with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her family. After leaving them, the man tasked with protecting the first family received a hand-written note from the former First Lady, which featured praise and gratitude for his work

"That was very pleasing to me, that she would take the time to write that note to me," said Hill, author of the new book "Five Days in November." "It indicated to me that I had helped her in some way, that her life there, during that three year period when they were in the White House, was a happy period in her life."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Hill, and for a special episode of "Piers Morgan Live" that is dedicated entirely to remembering a date which changed American history, watch CNN at 9p.
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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Penny English

    Could you please comment on the Secret Service Agent named George Hickey (now deceased) who was holding an AR-15 gun and the smell of exploded gun powder was evident as the third gun shot may have come from him. Butter fingers . . . as has been established in the past, AR-15 explode after making contact. It seems very plausible to me.

    November 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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