On a rainy day, here's a good way to spend the afternoon

Library, Towne Center Books to host Secret Service agent's report on Kennedy assassination today

Former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Blaine will be at the Pleasanton Public Library this rainy day afternoon to talk about President John F. Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963 and his years as one of the agents responsible for protecting the president.

At the 2 p.m. discussion, which is open free to the public, Blaine also will talk about his new book, "The Kennedy Detail," which is available at Towne Center Books in downtown Pleasanton and will be on sale at the library event. Towne Center Books is hosting the library event.

Blaine was serving in the Secret Service in Texas when Kennedy was shot. Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, he captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning.

Blaine describes the careful planning that went into JFK's Texas swing, the worries and concerns that agents, working long hours with little food or rest, had during the trip. And he describes the intensely private first lady making her first-ever political appearance with her husband, just months after losing a newborn baby.

Most of all," Judy Wheeler, co-owner of Towne Center Books said, "this is a look into the lives of men who devoted their entire beings to protecting the presidential family: the stress of the secrecy they kept, the emotional bonds that developed, the terrible impact on agents' psyches and families, and their astonishment at the country's obsession with far-fetched conspiracy theories and finger-pointing."

A book 50 years in coming, "The Kennedy Detail "is a portrait of incredible camaraderie and incredible heartbreak--a true, must-read story of heroism in its most complex and human form.

Blaine was assigned in November 1960 to the Kennedy detail and, for the next three years, traveled with President Kennedy all over the world. In 1963, when the president was assassinated, the U.S. Secret Service had a budget of about $4.1 million dollars and a staff of about 200 agents nationwide. Just 34 agents were responsible for protecting John F. Kennedy around the clock. They worked in eight-hour shifts, rotating the times of their shifts every two weeks.

"At the time of the assassination," Blaine writes, "while riding in an open convertible in a motorcade through Dallas, Secret Service Agent Clint Hill was just 10 feet from the president, desperately trying to hurl his body in front of the gunfire, when the president's head exploded before his eyes. Covered with blood and pieces of the president's brain, Agent Hill pushed Jackie Kennedy into the back seat and, clinging to the trunk of the open top limousine as it sped away from Dealey Plaza to Parkland Hospital, all he could do was slam his fist in anger, and give the thumbs down sign to the agents in the follow-up car behind him."

"For nearly 50 years, the close-knit group of men who protected JFK has refused to talk about that tragic day--until now," Wheeler said.

Blaine also writes about how the assassination threw the country and the White House into sudden turmoil and despair.

"Abruptly, the Kennedy Detail became the Johnson Detail," Blaine writes. "There was no time to grieve; no time to deal with feelings of anger, frustration and guilt."

On July 4, 1964, Jerry Blaine resigned from the Secret Service to join the private sector.

Blaine's son Scott lives in Pleasanton.

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Like this comment
Posted by Tim Walsh
a resident of Valley Trails
on Dec 14, 2010 at 8:37 am

Getting the chance to read the insight of an actual agent on the Kennedy detail is a wonderful opportunity.

Like this comment
Posted by Vince Palamara
a resident of Danbury Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

"The Kennedy Detail" is a wonderful mix of fact and fiction; splendid. Blaine is a great guy! :)

Like this comment
Posted by AJ Jones
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Dec 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

In Doug Horne’s ” Inside The ARRB” this passage has a VERY interesting story.

“”A prominent researcher I know (and I know several, do not assume that his identity is a “given”) videotaped an interview he conducted with one of the Air Force One stewards — a black man — shortly before the steward died. The steward related (on videotape) that on the flight back to Washington, D.C. from Love Field, agent Clint Hill was changing his shirt (which was covered with the President’s blood) and in a moment of complete honesty, while being assisted by the steward with his change of wardrobe, confided to the steward that when he jumped onto the back of the limousine “the driver had his gun out and it was pointed at my face.” As the interview was related to me, Clint Hill was quite shaken by what he saw, for the implications were obvious. Hill’s descriptions of the sound of the head shot(s), in both his written statement and in his Warren Commission testimony, were consistently that it resembled the sound a revolver makes when it is fired into a hard object, as I discussed extensively in Chapter 13. Now you know the rest of the story. I personally believe this hearsay account, which is why I have taken the reports of a left temporal entry wound from Parkland so seriously in this book Bertha Lozano, smelled “smoke” (i.e
gunpowder) when Kennedy and Connally were rushed past her on gurneys to the trauma stations for treatment. The videotaped interview of the steward also provides independent corroboration Hugh Betzner’s account in his Sheriff Department affidavit of November 22, 1963 that he saw a nickel [plated] revolver in someone’s hand inside the limousine during the assassination, and is consistent with Jean Hill’s account in her November 22, 1963 affidavit that some men in plain clothes were `shooting back’ [at the assassins]. Furthermore, since
the Zapruder film does not depict Greer holding a handgun and pointing it at President Kennedy, I am even more persuaded that the film has been altered — to remove not only the brief car stop, but what happened during the car stop.”
[emphasis in original; Horne, Volume V, pp.1415-1416.]

Like this comment
Posted by disappointed
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I was really dissapointed not being able to get into the library this afternoon for the program. Should have been at a much larger venue. I had been looking forward to it all week.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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