Many Americans can still remember where they were on November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Gerald “Jerry” Blaine remembers exactly where he was; in Austin, when a fellow Secret Service Agent pounded on his door saying the President had been hit.
Blaine was a Special Agent of the Secret Service, it was his job to protect the President from harm.
He’ll be in Meridian Monday to give two talks about the day that's forever inked in history books.
In November of 1963, Blaine had been working in Tampa, Florida, the first stop on Kennedy’s Florida/Texas trip. He was supposed to go on to Dallas, but he says things got busy in Tampa. “We had 28 miles of motorcade and four venues to cover,” said Blaine.
He gave up his place in Dallas for a fellow agent, who was dating an airline stewardess. Blaine ended up in Fort Worth and then Austin, where he first heard about the assassination.
“I had been to bed about a half hour and had just gone into a deep sleep and all of a sudden there was pounding on the door,” remembers Blaine. “It was my shift leader, telling me the President had been hit.” Blaine’s Secret Service detail was told to head immediately to Washington, so Blaine and his colleagues caught an Air Force plane. “There was radio silence on all Air Force planes. We didn’t hear anything until we landed and got word that the President had died.”
Blaine’s crew went straight to the new President, Lyndon Johnson’s house, to set up a protection detail. “No time for grieving, no time for counseling, they had no trauma counseling at that time. So you had to deal with your own shadows, so to speak.”
It was quiet that night and everyone was on edge after the assassination. Blaine says at about 2 a.m. that morning he heard a noise from someone who wasn’t supposed to be there. “So I picked a weapon up and pulled the bolt back…and around the corner of the house came the new President. I was just about a hairs-width of pulling the trigger,” Blaine said, “I recognized him and I think he turned white, even though it was pitch black outside, turned around and walked back into the house. So that was the day of the assassination.”
Gerald Blaine served briefly under President Lyndon Johnson before he resigned and joined the private sector. In 2010 he interviewed his fellow agents about that fateful day and wrote a book called “The Kennedy Detail.”
Blaine is hosting two public talks about his time as a secret service agent Monday afternoon in Meridian. He’ll speak at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the retirement community Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village. Seating is limited, call 208-888-2277 for more information.
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