JFK bodyguard still ‘haunted’ by assassination 55 years on, wishes he had been ‘faster’

They were eight seconds that changed the world – former marine Lee Harvey Oswald leaned out of the sixth-floor window and squeezed the trigger on his bolt-action rifle three times.

As a bullet blasted through John F Kennedy's neck, hero secret service agent Clint Hill was the first to react, leaping out of a following car and racing towards the presidential limousine.

Without a thought for his own safety, Clint leaped on to the back of the accelerating car, trying to create a human shield to protect the president and his wife Jackie.

But he was seconds too late. Before Clint could scramble into position, another shot pierced President Kennedy’s head, shattering his skull and showering blood and brain matter all over the car.

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In an exclusive interview with Sun Online on the 55th anniversary of the assassination today, Clint, 86, reveals how he will never be able to forget the shocking and gruesome image of the president's last moments.

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963, file photo, seen through the foreground convertible's windshield, President John F. Kennedy's hand reaches toward his head within seconds of being fatally shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm as the motorcade proceeds along Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.

FILE – In this Nov. 22, 1963, file photo, seen through the foreground convertible’s windshield, President John F. Kennedy’s hand reaches toward his head within seconds of being fatally shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm as the motorcade proceeds along Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. (AP Photo/James W. "Ike" Altgens, File)

And, tragically, even now Clint still believes “he should have been faster” – and blames himself for the president’s death.

“One thing that I've never been able to erase from my mind is being on the back of the car looking down at the president, who was lying with his face in Mrs Kennedy's lap," he said.

“The right side of his face is up and I can see that his eyes are fixed. There's blood everywhere.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, left, talks with retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill at the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider award at a ceremony on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Washburn, N.D. Gov. Burgum presented Hill with the portrait that will be displayed in the Rough Rider gallery in the state capitol in Bismarck. Hill is the 44th recipient of the state's highest honor.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, left, talks with retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill at the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider award at a ceremony on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Washburn, N.D. Gov. Burgum presented Hill with the portrait that will be displayed in the Rough Rider gallery in the state capitol in Bismarck. Hill is the 44th recipient of the state’s highest honor. (Tom Stromme /The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

"I can see the gunshot wound. In the room that's in the skull I can see that there is no more brain matter left.

“That is something I could never, and have never been able to, erase from my mind.”

This article originally appeared in The Sun. For more from The Sun, click here.

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