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.

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Award Recipient Presented
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