Secret Service Then and Now With Clint Hill
One of my favorite things about writing with Secret Service agent Clint Hill is going through the piles of photos he has in his personal collection. Every photo tells a story and when Clint Hill sits right beside me, pointing out details I might not have noticed, it allows me enormous insight into the challenges the Secret Service faces in varying scenarios. For instance, forty-nine years ago this week, Clint Hill traveled to Guam with President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The purpose of the trip was for LBJ to meet with officials from South Vietnam to discuss options for peace. As the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Clint Hill was the number two man on the Presidential Protective Division (PPD). It was March 1967, in the midst of the Vietnam War, college campuses were exploding with protests, and the threats to the president were ever-present.
About 2000 people were waiting at Agana Naval Air Station to see the arrival of President Johnson on Air Force One. The 1968 presidential campaign was one year away, but LBJ went straight to the fence line to greet the people who had come out to see him. No magnetometers, no screening, and nothing between the President of the United States and a potential assassin except the handful of Secret Service agents around him.
This past Sunday, March 20, 2016—forty-nine years to the day this photo in Guam was taken—I sat next to Clint Hill, watching on television, as Air Force One landed in Cuba. While I saw the big picture, his eyes caught the minute details. Sitting on the edge of his seat, he pointed out the positioning of the agents—some of whom he knows by name—and I could feel the inner tension rising inside him, just as if he were right back there alongside the President of the United States.
Lots of things have changed in the Secret Service in the past half-century—the communications are leap years ahead of what they were in the 1960s and the number of personnel has increased substantially—but one thing remains the same: the dedication of the Secret Service to their mission. You could see the same determination and laser focus on the faces of the agents in Cuba as you see in the photo in Guam. It was remarkable that President Obama traveled to Cuba, and it was thanks to the U.S. Secret Service that he was able to take such an historic trip at all.
For more about Secret Service Agent Clint Hill: ClintHillSecretService.com
Lisa McCubbin is the coauthor of the upcoming book FIVE PRESIDENTS: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford (Gallery/Simon and Schuster) On sale May 3, 2016.
What a privilege!! Maybe some day Mr. Hill will do a tour/slide show and show more of these!! I have already pre-ordered your/his book and can’t wait to read it! One of my heroes!!
Actually we show a lot of these photos when we speak on our book tour and other speaking events. Thanks so much for your support–a book is a great idea!
Oh yes it is a marvelous idea! I love seeing never before seen photos from that era.
I am so looking forward to meeting you both.
Great post and info Ms McCubbin.. I guess Mr Hill passed in front of me in 1967 or was it 66 at Stewart Air Force base to see the President on a fence line.Thank you and Clint for the books and documentaries and your service..Maybe I’ll make up to Charlottesville
The photos are great and thank you for sharing them with me.
As a former colleague and friend of Clint I am proud of his continued professionalism and is an honor to have worked with him and have him as a friend. He continues to show his dedication to this great country of ours. I am looking forward to reading your new book.
God Bless the United States of America
Thanks, Tom. Means a lot coming from you.
Please continue with all the photos and posts. Being born in the 50’s and seeing these historical events brings back good and sad memories. But, after reading your books, you have given us all great insight to the supreme dedication and courage SA Hill displayed throughout his storied career as an agent and as SAIC. I am especially looking forward to reading your new book and hope to attend either the Charlottesville event or the DC one.
Thanks, Margaret! Both those events require advance registration. Charlottesville has more seating. Newseum will probably sell out. Hope to see you at one of them!
You were right! Charlottesville was much easier to get. So excited to get your book and be part of what I know will be an informative evening! See you both in May!
Ms. McCubbin, do I need to pre-order a book for Charlottesville and how may I do that if necessary? Thank you.
I am just in awe of Mr Hill & the dedication that he & all the Agents of those days past showed towards our presidents and their families. My nephew has been priviledged to have flown copters in/around the some of the last presidents and I am embarrassed to admit that the treatment of these dedicated men/women have not been appreciated by all the families that they protect like the Kennedy’s, Reagan’s & Bush’s were. Hats off to you , Lisa, for assisting Mr Hill.& helping him heal. As a person with PTSD, having watched my husband killed in front of my eyes (motorcycle.accident), I understood & tried to emulate Mrs Kennedy, although 40yrs after JFK’s death, in that I tried to make my husband proud of me by showing that grace that she did during that most horrible time. Love & respect to you all.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. My heart goes out to you for what you have experienced. Your grace, dignity, and respect for your husband is clear.
Thank you for sharing, Ms. McCubbin. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting you and Mr. Hill at a book signing in Dallas on Nov. 23, 2013. I have signed copies of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November, and I look forward to adding a signed copy of Five Presidents to the collection.
I’m a big admirer of Mr. Hill and I feel privileged to have personally met him. He will forever occupy a special place in this country’s history – what a remarkable life he has had. As a presidential history buff I truly appreciate how your partnership with Mr. Hill has produced these wonderful books.
I live in the NYC area and look forward to seeing you both on May 2nd. I have a question – do I need some kind of ticket, pass or reservation to gain admittance and get Five Presidents signed that night?
Thank you and may God continue to bless you and Mr. Hill.
I don’t believe tickets are required to this event at Barnes & Noble, but I suggest you call ahead and reserve a copy of the book. That way you are guaranteed a book — we have had times when books sell out. Also, get there early– maybe 30 minutes ahead– to make sure you get a good seat. In the past this venue has been full with standing room only. See you in a month!
Just finished reading “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” and it was such a valuable and rewarding book. You have done wonders in encouraging Clint Hill to share his life with you and put it in writing. As a young child during the events of 1963, it was extremely enlightening to read details surrounding the life of Mrs. Kennedy thru the eyes of Mr. Hill. Thank you for your continued work in making our nation’s history come to life thru your writings.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. It has been a wonderful experience working with Clint. He is an amazing man.
I was just privileged to find and read Mrs. Kennedy and Me book. What a phenomenal job you all did and I’m thrilled to find the other books you’ve done. I’d say that has to be in my top (5) favorite books I’ve ever read. Such a poignant and cherished book full of beautiful writing.
Thank you for sharing with the world & thank you to Mr. Hill for all your years of service.
Thank you! We are glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for taking the time to let us know. — Lisa and Clint