BISMARCK - Gov. Doug Burgum announced plans to honor North Dakota native and former U.S. Secret Service agent Clint Hill on Friday, Oct. 5, nearly 55 years after he scrambled on top of the presidential limousine to shield its occupants from a gunman who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
Burgum named Hill as the 44th recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, which the governor’s office described as the state’s “highest commendation for its citizens.”
Hill served in the Secret Service from 1958 to 1975. He is best known for using his body to shield Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy after the president was shot as his motorcade drove through Dallas in 1963. He was later honored by the Treasury Department, which oversaw the Secret Service until 2003, with its highest award for bravery.
"Every day, there's something that reminds me of either the Kennedy administration, Mrs. Kennedy, or President Kennedy or the children," Hill told the Grand Forks Herald last year. "There isn't a day that goes by that there isn't a song I hear, a magazine I see the cover of, a newspaper article, something mentioned on the TV or on the radio - every day, there's something."
The Rough Rider award recognizes current and former North Dakotans who have been influenced by the state in achieving national prominence. Past recipients include former basketball coach Phil Jackson, baseball legend Roger Maris and entertainer Lawrence Welk.
Paintings of award recipients hang in the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Hall of Fame in the ground floor of the state Capitol. The award will be presented to Hill in person at a later date, according to Burgum’s office.
“I am honored and humbled to be placed in the company of the many incredible North Dakotans who have received this award,” Hill said in a statement. He said North Dakota “has always been my home.”
Burgum informed Hill of the award Wednesday. The governor’s spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, said his office received at least a half dozen written nominations for Hill and multiple verbal ones.
“Clint Hill is an exceptional North Dakotan who has risked his life and health time and time
again to protect our nation and its commander in chief,” Burgum said in a statement. “His
exemplary record of service at the highest level of national security continues to inspire pride
and respect among North Dakotans, and we are deeply grateful for his lifetime of service.”
Hill was born in Larimore but grew up in Washburn. A graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, he applied for the Secret Service after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army and served through five administrations, starting with President Dwight Eisenhower and ending with President Gerald Ford, according to Burgum’s office.
Hill was assigned to Jackie Kennedy’s detail when her husband took office in 1961, and the events of Nov. 22, 1963, changed his life.
During an appearance at Concordia College in 2011, Hill remembered suffering from depression after the assassination, which he didn’t talk to anyone about for decades. But he has now co-authored three books about his time in the Secret Service, and a television series based on one of his books is in development with National Geographic, Burgum’s office said.
Burgum, a former software executive who was first elected in 2016, is the first member of the Rough Rider Hall of Fame to hand out the award himself. Then-Gov. John Hoeven presented Burgum with the award in 2009 at the Microsoft campus in Fargo.
|Lawrence Welk, Entertainer||August 28, 1961|
|Dorothy Stickney, Actress||November 2, 1961|
|Ivan Dmitri, Artist||April 13, 1962|
|Roger Maris, Athlete||January 4, 1964|
|Eric Sevareid, Journalist||April 17, 1964|
|Gen. Harold K. Johnson, Military Service||April 23, 1965|
|Dr. Anne H. Carlsen, Educator||September 9, 1966|
|Edward K. Thompson, Journalist||April 19, 1968|
|Dr. Robert Henry Bahmer, Archiving||July 28, 1970|
|Louis L'Amour, Author||May 26, 1972|
|Bertin C. Gamble, Entrepreneur||October 20, 1972|
|Casper Oimoen, Athlete||February 12, 1973|
|Peggy Lee, Entertainer||May 23, 1975|
|Harold Schafer, Entrepreneur||July 4, 1975|
|Era Bell Thompson, Journalist||August 14, 1976|
|Dr. Leon Orris Jacobson, Physician||October 1, 1976|
|Elizabeth Bodine, Humanitarian||July 27, 1979|
|Phyllis Frelich, Actress||April 27, 1981|
|Cliff "Fido" Purpur, Athlete||May 16, 1981|
|Gen. David C. Jones, Military Service||May 21, 1982|
|Ronald N. Davies, Judge||June 11, 1987|
|Phil Jackson, Athlete||July 30, 1992|
|Larry Woiwode, Author||October 23, 1992|
|Angie Dickinson, Actress||December 2, 1992|
|Rev. Richard C. Halverson, Minister||March 26, 1994|
|Brynhild Haugland, Legislator||March 20, 1995|
|Admiral William A. Owens, Military Service||January 29, 1996|
|Carl Ben Eielson, Pioneer Aviator||August 26, 1997|
|Warren Christopher, Public Service||June 20, 1998|
|Bobby Vee, Entertainer||June 20, 1999|
|Chester "Chet" Reiten, Entrepreneur||October 8, 2002|
|Thomas J. Clifford, Entrepreneur||November 23, 2002|
|Sister Thomas Welder, Educator||May 1, 2004|
|Harry J. Pearce, Business Leader||August 11, 2004|
|William C. Marcil, Business Leader||May 18, 2006|
|Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble, Military Service||July 23, 2008|
|Doug Burgum, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist||November 20, 2009|
|Ronald D. Offutt, Agribusiness Leader and Philanthropist||September 15, 2011|
|Louise Erdrich, Author||April 19, 2013|
|Herman Stern, Business Leader and Humanitarian||March 13, 2014|
|Gerald W. VandeWalle, Elected Official||January 7, 2015|
|John D. Odegard, Aviation Pioneer and Leader||October 15, 2015|
|Eugene Dahl, Business Leader and Entrepreneur||October 28, 2016|