Secret Service agent Clint Hill was riding in the car that was immediately behind the presidential limousine. As soon as the shooting began, Hill jumped out and began running to overtake the moving car in front of him with the plan to climb on from the rear bumper and crawl over the trunk to the back seat where the President and First Lady were located.
Hill grabbed a small handrail on the left rear of the trunk that was normally used by bodyguards to stabilize themselves while standing on small platforms on the rear bumper. Hill grabbed the handrail less than two seconds after the fatal shot to the President. The driver then accelerated, causing the car to slip away from Hill, who was in the midst of trying to leap on to it. He succeeded in regaining his footing and jumped on to the back of the quickly accelerating vehicle.
As he got on, he saw Mrs. Kennedy, apparently in shock, crawling onto the flat rear trunk of the moving limousine (he later told the Warren Commission that he thought Mrs. Kennedy was reaching for a piece of the President’s skull which had been blown off). Agent Hill crawled to her and guided the First Lady back into her seat. Once back in the car, Hill placed his body above the President and Mrs. Kennedy. Meanwhile, in the folding jump seats directly in front of them, Mrs. Connally had pulled her wounded husband, Governor John Connally, to a prone position on her lap.
Agent Kellerman, in the front seat of the car, gave orders over the car’s two-way radio to the lead vehicle in the procession “To the nearest hospital, quick!” Hill was shouting as loudly as he could “To the hospital, to the hospital!” Enroute to the hospital, Hill flashed a “thumbs-down” signal and shook his head from side to side at the agents in the followup car, signaling the graveness of the President’s condition.
As the car moved at high speed to the hospital, Hill maintained his position shielding the couple with his body, and was looking down at the mortally wounded President.
The limousine then rapidly exited Dealey Plaza and sped to Parkland Memorial Hospital, only minutes away, followed by other vehicles in the motorcade.
Although the Secret Service was shocked at its failure to protect the life of President Kennedy, virtually everyone agreed that Clint Hill’s rapid and brave actions had been without blemish. He was honored at a ceremony in Washington just days after the funeral of John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy, despite being in deep mourning, made a rare appearance at this same event to personally thank him.
In a 1975 interview with Mike Wallace, Hill tearfully surmised that if he had reached the vehicle a second earlier, he would have been able to have taken the third shot to his own body, and felt a great deal of regret for not being able to reach there in time