The Kennedy Detail
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warm best wishes to Jerry Blaine

Dear Mr. Blaine:
I have just finished reading "The Kennedy Detail," and am moved to write you this note to thank you for taking the time to write it.
Over the years, I have been privileged to have gotten to know several SA's with the Secret Service, and am always impressed with their dedication to the job.  It is, at its essence, a very high form of patriotism.  No one I know has gotten wealthy from being in the Service; even those who have risen in the ranks to ATSAIC's, ASAC's and SAIC's.
The point that resonated with me from reading your book is the Herculean tasks you and your colleagues had in an era devoid of the technological advances that the Secret Service enjoys today.
Please pardon my intrusion on your time with this email, but I wanted you to know that your book was not only enjoyable; it was inspirational as well.  I hope you, Joyce and your family will enjoy happiness and good health for many years to come.
Mark S. Alper

Monday, September 19, 2011

A note from White House Photographer Bob Knudson' daughter

Hello Mr. Blaine

I am the daughter of WH photographer Bob Knudsen. I just finished your book. I absolutely loved it. Being that I was the youngest I probably spent the most time during my younger years with my dad. Your book really allowed me to better understand why dad was so quiet about his job and why he was gone all the time. I was born in April 1963.

One of my fondest memories was a 40th year birthday party for my dad at our house in Annandale. One of the USSS Agents came upstairs to console me because I was upset because I couldn't go downstairs with all the adults. I also remember the trips with Nixon when most families accompanied their fathers to Florida and Laguna Beach, California.

I read your book super fast because it was so informative. The style was awesome. I am grateful for all that you did during your service for the country. I am a Special Agent with the embattled ATF. I have been one for 12 years. I have been on a few task forces where I have had the privelege of working with USSS. It is still a great Agency and a joy to work with USSS Agents.

I would love have you sign my book and one for my brother and mother. I know Bob asked for one, but he may have put it off and it would be a great gift for all my siblings and Mom.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Yvonne Knudsen Becker

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fascinating Authors Reviews the Kennedy Detail

Book Review: The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin

Book Review
John H. Manhold

The Kennedy Detail ISBN 9781439192962, Gallery Books Division of Simon & Schuster, Soft Cover, 404 pages by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin.

For the first time, a member of the Secret Service assigned to guard President Kennedy, provides details “to set the record straight.”

The book begins with a Forward by the author, and another by Clint Hill, the security agent assigned to protect Mrs. Kennedy, who was so prominent in his efforts to protect the president on that fateful day. From this beginning, a reader is introduced to the extensive planning and details required to protect the President of the United States as well as other Members of State and their families. Details are provided of the precautionary measures taken for every trip, every motorcade, every personal appearance, and even during the night hours.

It details how every police report of ‘persons of interest,’ whether actual criminals, known agitators, or just ‘some nut’ is scrutinized and the precautionary measures that are taken, the manner in which motorcade routes are examined and programmed and even the specific automobiles and drivers that are required – all of the host of details one does not realize are necessary to reduce the state of vulnerability of the President of the United States.

Vignettes of the agents’ home life, their wives and children, also are presented in a simple manner that bring clearly to mind the dedication that this group of men must have to provide the efficient force they have become.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill on the back of...
Image via Wikipedia

Actual description of the assassination of the President is presented graphically, with all details of the shots fired. The journey to the hospital, activities within the hospital and subsequent handling of the president’s body, also are described in detail, so as to make all theories of conspiracy seem untenable. Descriptions of the funeral and family actions also are faithfully described in all of their heart-wrenching detail.

The authors further have provided a look at the after-assassination life of Clint Hill that provides a description of the horrendous effect an action of this magnitude could have on persons as dedicated as these men.

In summary, as a person who lived through this horrendous period of history, and remembers following each and every detail as presented by the media, I am fascinated to read the descriptions of factors not presented at the time. The Kennedy Detail is a book that everyone should read. It provides essential details about a particularly prominent, albeit traumatic, incident in history in a most readable form.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Caroline Kennedy Speaks at Kennedy Library Forum

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations

Monday, September 19, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

On the publication of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy will join a panel of historians to discuss the 1964 interviews Arthur Schlesinger Jr. conducted with Mrs. Kennedy which have never before been available to the public.

Click here to make a reservation or call 617-514-1643.

For more information, visit

Watch Kennedy Library Forums LIVE on-line at

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Only Secret Service Agent to Lose His Life on September 11th

A photograph of Master Special Officer Craig Miller, 29, an East Bridgewater native, who was the only Secret Service agent to die on September 11, 2001. (Emily J. Reynolds/The Enterprise)

Miller, who had guarded President George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, was the only Secret Service agent who was killed in the terrorist attacks.

A married father of four, Miller was two months shy of his 30th birthday when he died.

He was a Boy Scout in East Bridgewater and graduated in 1989 from Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School.

After graduation, he enlisted in the Army for more than four years, serving in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He earned two bronze stars and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

Miller later worked as an instructor for the National Rifle Association. He then worked for a private security company before joining the Secret Service and moving to the Washington area.

Maria Papadopoulos may be reached at

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bravo From a Fellow Secret Service Agent


My name is Tom Heuerman. I was an agent in Minneapolis and Chicago
from late 1968-1972.

I just finished "The Kennedy Detail" and want to say bravo, bravo, bravo.

You were definitely called to do this work, and I thank you for
following it. The world is better for your work.

I found the book deeply painful AND inspiring. It is really, I feel, a
book about all of our shared humanity in a world filled with villains
that the good people have to say "NO" to.

Clint Hill's story made me cry. I am a recovering alcoholic, (37
years), and don't know that he considers himself an alcoholic or not,
but I do relate to his suffering and isolation. I am so happy that he
dug himself out of his despair.

I am writing a review (as I fancy myself a writer too) and will post
it on Amazon, my blog, and my web site probably tomorrow.

By the way, in 2001 I lived on the side of a mountain between Ridgway
and Ouray, Colorado. I am in Plymouth, MN now.

My best wishes

Tom Heuerman

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rayment's Readings, Rants and Ramblings Reviews The Kennedy Detail

The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin: Book Review

The Kennedy Detail
by Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-43919296-2
Buy from Indigo

Description: THE SECRET SERVICE. An elite team of men who share a single mission: to protect the president of the United States. On November 22, 1963, these men failed—and a country would never be the same. Now, for the first time, a member of JFK's Secret Service detail reveals the inside story of the assassination, the weeks and days that led to it and its heartrending aftermath. This extraordinary book is a moving, intimate portrait of dedication, courage, and loss.

Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, Jerry Blaine captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning. He 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.

Here are vivid scenes that could come only from inside the Kennedy detail: JFK's last words to his tearful son when he left Washington for the last time; how a sudden change of weather led to the choice of the open-air convertible limousine that day; Mrs. Kennedy standing blood-soaked outside a Dallas hospital room; the sudden interruption of six-year-old Caroline's long-anticipated sleepover with a friend at home; the exhausted team of agents immediately reacting to the president's death with a shift to LBJ and other key governmental figures; the agents' dismay at Jackie's decision to walk openly from the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral at the state funeral.

Most of all, 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 fifty 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.

The Good Stuff
  • Compelling and authentic and extremely classy (no tell all gossip book here)
  • Touching first hand accounts of the relationship between JFK and his staff and his family
  • Good selection of photographs including a lovely candid one of JFK and his kids on Halloween
  • The scene between JFK and his son is very touching when you realize this is the last time they will ever see each other. Made me cry -- for once at least I wasn't in a public place when I read it
  • Enjoyed the little glimpse into how compassionate and how all to human JFK and his wife were
  • The obvious love and respect that the agents had for each other and for their "boss"
  • honestly just really interesting to learn about the inner workings of the Secret Service and of the men whose job it is to protect the president - just plain fascinating
  • Extremely detailed descriptions of the days before and after the assassination
  • The descriptions of the agents grief and their obvious feelings of survivors guilt and shame are very moving
  • Touching stories about the relationship between the agents and JFK's kids before and after the assassination
  • Why are you still reading my ramblings just go get the book - you know you want to.

The Not so Good Stuff
  • Jumps around a little and I got lost a couple of times -- but hey I am a sleep deprived mom, you guys might not notice as much
  • Sometimes I was a little frustrated with all the minute details - see above note
  • Also, (and you should know one of my history teachers, Mr Centa was a HUGE conspiracy theorist and I had to attend tons of his presentations in high school so this stuff has been ingrained in me - I can't tell you how many times we had to see the Zapruder film) I sort of balked at the obvious plea for us to put our full trust in the findings of the Warren Commission (See the last quote in next section)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The publishing of motorcade routes was a constant battle between the Secret Service and the president's political advisers. From the Secret Service standpoint, informing the public about the president's movements in advance was like inviting the fox into the hen-house, while the political folks looked at is as a necessity. From their views, the whole point of the motorcade was for JFK to be seen by as many people as possible."

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others - John F. Kennedy"

"Meanwhile, Godfrey was fuming. He couldn't wait to get out of the country. He turned to Rowley and said, "The Italians haven't changed since the last time I was here. The only difference is, now we can't shoot at 'em"
"I would be very pleased if the results of the Warren Commission and its investigation would be accepted as the final word. However, I know that the researchers, writers, and filmmakers who continue to question those findings will never accept those as the truth. The information presented by the majority of these people is theory, not fact. They were not witnesses to the assassination; have little or no knowledge of protective procedures; did not know the dedicated agents on this assignment; and simply were not in our shoes that day in Dallas."

What I Learned
  • Fascinating details about the day to day challenges faced by members of the Secret Service
  • How few Secret Service were actually in charge of protecting the president and how this has changed since
  • Too many interesting historical tidbits to mention -- just go buy the book -- or of course ask your friendly neighborhood Librarian for a copy
  • John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president -- seriously I couldn't believe it either
  • How little these guys actually got paid to put their lives on the line and how horribly boring it could be
  • Really would have hated to be married to one of these guys
Who should/shouldn't read
  • I'm thinking serious conspiracy theorists will be totally put off by this one -- that's right Fox Mulder and Dr. Jack Hodgins this book is not for you (And cannot forget about you Mr Centa)
  • History buffs and those interested in the Secret Service will definitely enjoy
  • Definite must have for Kennedy junkies

Monday, September 5, 2011

Secret Service Gallery

getty images

US Secret Service stands guard as US President Barack Obama
walks out of Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven, MA, on August 19, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Catherine "Dolly" Berger Wife of SSA Andy Berger

Catherine Ferguson Berger 'Dolly'

January 16, 1939 - August 26, 2011

Dolly, 72, of Charlotte passed away peacefully on Friday, August 26, 2011 surrounded by her family. She was born January 16, 1939 in Albany, NY to the late Edward and Florence Ferguson. Dolly grew up in Larchmont, NY with her five siblings Mary, Edward, Billy, Nan, and Peter. She was preceded in death by her loving husband Andrew, her brother Edward, and sister Mary. Dolly fought a difficult and courageous battle. She inspired many with her positive and sweet spirit. Even in difficult times, in typical Dolly fashion, she wanted to take care of others before she thought of herself.

She attended Marymount College in Arlington, VA. After graduation from Marymount, she was married to Andy Berger on June 25, 1960. During Andy's career in the Secret Service, Dolly and Andy raised their family in New York, Maryland and Charlotte. Dolly was well respected in the retail industry and enjoyed a long career with Montaldo's and most recently with Paul Simon for Women in Charlotte.
Dolly's family was the most important thing in her life. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Being a wife and mother was the most important thing to her. Dolly was a woman of grace and elegance and had a wonderful sense of humor. She always made everyone around her feel better. You could always count on Dolly for a kind word or a quick hug. She was a loyal friend to many. She loved to spend time at family gatherings, beach trips to the Jersey Shore, and Kiawah Island, SC. She was happiest when surrounded by family and took great joy in anything having to do with her grandchildren.
She is survived by her four children: Katie Higgins of Charlotte, Andrew and his wife Julie of Gastonia, John and his wife Maria of Charlotte and Chris and his wife Heidi of Charlotte. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Jordan Berger of Gastonia, Kelsey and Connor Higgins of Charlotte, Brady, Riley and Delaney Berger of Charlotte, and Molly and Lucy Berger of Charlotte.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at St. Gabriel Catholic Church.
The family would like to thank the many doctors and nurses that helped with her care. They would like to thank the staff at Huntersville Oaks and Hospice of Lake Norman for their compassionate care. A special thanks to nurse Debbie McDougle for the kind and loving care that she gave to our mother.

Online condolences may be made at

Published in Charlotte Observer from August 29 to August 31, 2011