Revealed: Secret Service agent tells how Caroline Kennedy was in a car on the way to her first sleepover while John John was at the White House with his nanny when their father JFK was assassinated
- Agent Clint Hill has written a book timed with the 50th anniversary
- Hill was the agent who ran up behind the convertible as Jackie tried to climb on top of the trunk to grab a piece of her husband’s skull
- Both of the Kennedy children were in Washington at the time
- Mrs Kennedy told them later that evening with the help of their nanny
Moments before: President Kennedy and Jackie were in the back of a convertible on November 22, 1963 when he was killed by an assassin’s bullet
Instead, it was agent Tom Wells who was in charge of protecting the children, 5-year-old Caroline and 2-year-old John Jr.
Neither traveled with their parents on that fateful trip to Dallas. John Jr. was too young to know what was going on, but the agent feared that Caroline might.
She was headed to her friend Agatha Pozen when the first reports of the shooting were broadcast over the radio.
Mr Wells signaled for Mrs Pozen to stop the car, and though she told him that the girls were playing and probably did not hear the report, he decided that he had to get Caroline back to the White House.
‘Caroline, there has been a change in plans, and you mother has asked that you come back,’ Mr Wells told the little girl.
Mr Hill’s book, a preview excerpt of which was published in People Magazine, reports that John Jr was with his nanny, Maud Shaw.
Once Mrs Kennedy arrived back in Washington later on the evening of November 22, she and Mrs Shaw were the ones to tell the children that their father had died.
‘She was very strong through the whole ordeal,’ Mr Wells said in the book.
That was far from her only act of strength during that difficult time, as Mr Hill said that he was concerned for her own safety as she tested the limits while trying to catch a piece of her husband’s skull that had been shot off and flew out the back of the open-top convertible.
He recalled the moment when he had to run and climb into the car from the back before it sped away: ‘Mrs Kennedy, her eyes filled with terror, is crawling out of her seat and onto the trunk, Oh God… The car is beginning to speed up and if I don’t get to her, she’s going to be thrown off. I push her back into the seat.’
Mrs Kennedy spearheaded the logistics of planning a state funeral as soon as she arrived back in the Capitol, after standing by her husband’s Vice President’s side when he was sworn in to take over on board Air Force One.
The next three days were a blur of seemingly-unending memorial engagements.
After the formal funeral ceremony, there was a much more light-hearted event that she had to plan, which agent Hill asked her about as soon as she got back to the White House.
‘”Oh and Mrs Kennedy? I hate to bring it up. Have you thought about doing anything for John’s birthday?” Her mouth breaks into the slightest of smiles. “Oh Mr Hill, you never forget anything, do you? In fact that’s what we’re going to do now, have a little celebration,”‘ he wrote of their exchange.
Relatives and close friends had gathered in the private residence on the second floor of the White House and sang Irish songs and said funny poems in celebration of the slain President’s son’s third birthday.
‘There are presents and cake and the laughter of children is the sliver of sunshine amid the blackness of the past four days,’ Mr Hill wrot