By Tara Vocino
ABC Cigar co-owner Dan Moore was 32 years old when he worked as deputy administrative assistant to the comptroller of the currency when he was assigned to protect First Lady Jackie Kennedy after the late President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Moore says he still remembers it like it was yesterday.
As the country – and literally, the world – fell into shock and mourning of the loss of the leader of the Free World, the capital was on edge as the government sought answers to the murder of Pres. Kennedy.
Moore recalls sitting in his office at the main U.S. Treasury building in room 311. “Every day I was in town, several Treasury officials would come by at 1:00 p.m.,” Moore said at his Revere Street cigar store on Tuesday. “We’d go across the street at the Washington Hotel for lunch.”
When they didn’t show up, he kept on working. At 1:30 p.m., the door opened and his fellow Treasury workers stood silent. It was then he learned that President Kennedy had been assassinated, Moore said. “Needless to say, not much was said at lunch.”
Several days later, Moore got a phone call from the chief of the U.S. Secret Service, who wanted to see him in his office immediately to discuss a special assignment. He was told to meet with David Powers, was Special Assistant and assistant Appointments Secretary to President Kennedy. “We had a working relationship prior to the assassination when I had to go the White House to see Powers,” Moore said. “He was very close to the president.”
When Moore would want to go to the White House, he’d call the Secret Service to take him directly.
The first time he met with Moore in his office at the White House, Powers closed the doors to his inner office, and what he was going to tell him was not to be discussed with anyone. “She’s coming tomorrow to present an award for bravery to the Secret Service agent, Clint Hill, who was assigned to the [President’s] car in Dallas,” Moore said. “They gave me her schedule.”
They wanted Moore to meet the First Lady at the elevator at a certain time. “She’s yours,” they said. “I asked, “Why me?”
His answer was that Moore knew so many people in the building. Moore’s concern was that he had no formal training as a bodyguard in order to protect the First Lady. They weren’t going to make any announcement of her arrival, so no one would know she was there until then.
On the day of her arrival. Moore went to the elevator banks and took control of all access inside the building, which shocked many of the government workers inside. Suddenly, everything just stopped.
“The elevator door opened,” Moore said. “She stepped out with her sister, and I greeted her.”
They walked down to the main conference room. The Secretary of the Treasury wasn’t there to present the award, so Moore had to go out in the hall to find him. Finally, everyone was together to present the award to Agent Hill, who had jumped on the president’s car during the assassination in order to protect the First Lady.
Following the ceremony, Moore walked her back to the elevator. Later that afternoon, the Chief of Secret Service came down to see him and said he did a nice job.
For a couple hours, Moore was a Secret Service agent at the U.S. Treasury office in 1963. He spoke to Jackie briefly and her sister. “That’s something that doesn’t happen every day of the week,” Moore said. “It was very quiet – you could hear a pin drop.”
Moore said, “Good afternoon, madam” and “This way, please” to the First Lady. He remembered making small talk with the First Lady before and after the award ceremony, adding that she was focused, polite and very calm in spite of all that had happened to her in Dallas just a week or so before.
After all these years, Dan says it’s just something one can never forget. A moment in time – a moment in history.