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The Discovery Channel Presents: The Kennedy Detail

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“The boss got hit.”  Those were the words following a knock on his door that told Gerald Blaine what had happened in Dallas.  At the time, Blaine was a special agent with the Secret Service and was resting in a hotel room in Austin.  He was one of 16 of the 40 agents in “The Kennedy Detail” sent ahead in advance of the President’s arrival.  Austin was to be the next stop after Dallas in a series of stops that began in Florida then proceeded to San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas.

The President’s trip had gone smoothly, even in Florida where tensions were high (with the Cuban population there) in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It was in the 28-mile long motorcade in Florida that JFK had ordered the agents off the back of his open-top limousine.  Campaigning season was in full swing and the President wanted to be closer to the people (voters).  The agents understood that same order would stand in Texas.

The first half of the program depicts the agents protecting President Eisenhower and the transition to the Kennedy administration.  Close and lasting relationships between the agents and their charges developed quickly.  The First Family learned the names of the agents and treated them like family.  Most of the agents were from small towns and middle class economic backgrounds and were charmed by the Kennedy family and impressed by their wealth and all its accoutrements.

With the death of the Kennedy’s infant son, Patrick, the agents experienced the loss like family and as they described, “a heaviness hung over the First Family”.  It would get worse. 

Almost a dozen former agents appear in the broadcast giving first hand accounts and their opinions about their jobs and “That Day”.  Clint Hill, the agent assigned to the First Lady’s detail gets the most air time.  He was the agent (shown here) who jumped onto the back of the limousine and shielded the President and Mrs. Kennedy from any further shots that may have been fired. 

Regardless of personal politics, viewers will be moved by this emotional program. Not only was the President murdered that day, our country was attacked. In 1963 many felt the same way as other generations had on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2000.

Footage of the agents expressing their thoughts and feelings reveal their humanity and their emotions of not only losing a friend, but coming to grips with what they believed as a failure in their duty.

The Discovery Channel premiered a two-hour special on Thursday, December 2, 2010 based on Blaine’s book, The Kennedy Detail.  It is scheduled to repeat on December 3 and no doubt will eventually be available on DVD.

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  • Steve R

    Oh, this program had me hooked to the end. I was 16 at the time in my high school english class, when the principal announced over the PA system: “Your attention please, I want your complete attention. The president of the United States has been shot in Dallas, Texas. No further details are known at this time. We will keep you informed as details develop.” A few minutes later, a local radio station was piped through out school reporting the event and finally announcing the death of John F. Kennedy. I will never forget that feeling. That was Ohio, I now live in the Dallas area and have had my fill of documentaries of the Kennedy assassination. This one was different…to actually hear the behind the scenes details, graphic as they were, from the actual secret service men who experienced and witnessed the entire event. This 2 hour program brought back emotions that I thought ended years ago. Thanks Discovery, for this excellent program.

  • Mat S

    Great program!! Looking forward to reading the book. If Jerry says it, you can count on it to be the truth; a very honest and truthful man; and since Clint Hill is his friend, he has to be OK as well!!
    Learned a lot from this program. Thank you, Discovery Channel.

  • http://vincepalamara.blogspot.com/ Vince Palamara

    President Kennedy never interfered with the actions of the Secret Service, nor did he ever order the agents off his limousine. Gerald Blaine is a nice guy and his book (and this documentary) has some worthwhile features, but, as someone who has interviewed many of the agents who guarded JFK (including Mr. Blaine), I think it is best to take some things in the book and tv show with a huge grain of salt.

  • Bill Eppridge

    I missed significant parts parts of The Kennedy Detail.
    When are you going to repeat?

  • patricia durham

    please show this again as i did not get to watch it.

  • larry newhouse

    I was 24 years old when the President was shot. To this day, everyone I know could tell you exactly where they were when the news reached us/them. I was working in NY city and our office closed immediately. I walked from 5th avenue to 34th street to get to Penn Station to rush home. The ONLY sound was people weaping openly everywhere. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was in shock and disbelief that such a tragedy could occour in our Country. There was talk everywhere of a conspiracy..was it the Cubans or the Russians? Riding home on the half hour railroad trip everyone sat in silence as if they had lost a member of their own family. It didn’t matter if you were a Democrat or Republican, we were all so upset for Mrs. Kenedy and her 2 children. He was such a young, vibrant man, a great speaker and the first President born in the 20th century. It took me years to get over it. My Wife and I have been all over the world and still after 47 years we have no desire to visit the site where this horror took place. Watching that documentary on the Presidential detail, I understand the burden those surviving agents carry to this day but God knows, it happened so fast that they could not have prevented the act that day that changed our lives forever. There were so many if’s…if the limo was travelling faster, if the bubble top had been on the car, if agents had been riding on the rear of the car, etc,etc,etc. Some things in life cannot be explained…fate and timing by even a second could have changed that awful outcome. Camelot died that day at the hands of a loser with an imported rifle who fired 3 shots and killed our naivete as to our world that crashed down at that moment. Oh yes, when ther President and the Governor were taken into the hospital we knew so little as to the details. The 2 wounded men were taken into 2 different trauma rooms. My late Mother called the office and sasid that the Governor had been taken in to surgery and she said that that meant that the President was dead. She was 100% right. That was when we told everyone to go home and we locked up.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com fcetier

    Thank you all for your interest and your comments.
    Check your local listings or TDC.com for future broadcasts.

  • John Sweeney

    These guys have refuted the Warren Commission conclusion about the Magic Bullet and raised a large question about LHO and the Carcano, which is a carbine, not a high-powered rifle, and could not have made the hole in JFK’s head nor splattered his brains all over the back of the limo.

    I’d also like to know why Clint didn’t take those three bullets for JFK – that was his job. What series of events prevented his doing so? I suspect that the fatal shot originated from the grassy knoll behind the fence, and so Clint could have only taken two of the bullets, but not the fatal shot.

    It’s also unlikely that Mrs JFK was trying to re-capture pieces of her husband’s skull–she was probably instinctively trying to escape the death pit that the limo had become. It’s a wonder the guy on the grassy knoll didn’t hit her as well, he came pretty close. But then they were instructed not to kill the woman with the red roses, just the man sitting next to her.

  • vince palamara

    People are so naive and trusting; geez. Congressman Sam Gibbons, who rode IN the limo with JFK in Tampa, wrote to myself, a total stranger, and said that he heard NO order from JFK to have the agents remove themselves from the limo AND that the agents were on the rear of the car all the way. JFK’s best friend, Dave Powers, told me the same thing, as did a gaggle of former agents. Blaine is…oops, can’t say-personal attacks are NOT allowed

  • Mark Ferlerton

    Discovery Channel, you MUST repeat this excellent program! It only aired two days and does not appaer to be available on DVD for purchase. But the word-of-mouth for this program has people saying they wish they had seen it, or want to see it again. Please release it on DVD or put it back on the schedule for a few more showings, it is rare that a program this important, this good, and this much in demand, so quickly vanishes after a brief showing. It almost feeds into the conspiracy theory that it has been pulled from the airwaves & banned from being sold. Makes you wonder why it has been buried now.

  • vince palamara

    Gerald Blaine, as well as many of his colleagues, told me (on audio tape and/ or in writing) that JFK never interfered with their actions; this also goes for several important NON agents, such as Dave Powers

  • Patricia

    This was a magnificent two hours. We applaud Discovery Channel for their professionalism in this program. We would like to purchase this DVD for our family to keep in their libraries. The book is outstanding and holds your attention all the way through. P

  • Phil

    Mr. Blaine insists that his colleagues saw all 3 bullets hit targets in the limo. If that is the case, then he is confirming the existence of a conspiracy, because another shot missed the limo entirely and struck a curb further down the street, wounding James Tague. Therefore there is at least a fourth shot and another shooter.

  • Donald

    I met Mr. Blaine, and he told me that the President asked him to give him space to be with the crowd, and not to smother him, and that he did not want the SS on the back of the vehicle.

    Even if Mr. Blaine would have been on the back of the vehicle, there were three shots, and his presence would not have prevented the three shots.

    Mr. Blaine did his job as instructed or he would have been removed from the detail after this tragedy.

    Instead, he was assigned to the First Lady for a one year detail.

  • Donald

    I made an error in the typing, so the below is the correction.
    I met both men, and as to integrity of the statement, I wanted to provide the correct names in place.

    I met Mr. Clint Hill, and he told me that the President asked him to give him space to be with the crowd, and not to smother him, and that he did not want the SS on the back of the vehicle.

    Even if Mr. Clint Hill would have been on the back of the vehicle, there were three shots, and his presence would not have prevented the three shots.

    Mr. Clint Hill did his job as instructed or he would have been removed from the detail after this tragedy.

    Instead, he was assigned to the First Lady for a one year detail.

  • George Payne

    Just to let you know that the Kennedy detail is available on DVD in a JFK conspiracy 6 disc set in region 2 format.

  • Chris

    I think you mean Sept. 11, 2001.