Radford Jones

Retired Secret Service member speaks about experiences

 Published: Friday, March 29, 2013


 Former Secret Service member Radford Jones, right, talks with an audience member following his presentation at the Mount Clemens Public Library on March 26.


 A retired member of the United States Secret Service spoke to a packed room at the Mount Clemens Public Library on March 26.

Hillsdale native Radford Jones discussed the history of the Secret Service and also shared stories regarding his time in the service.


 “President Kennedy was a lot of fun to work with,” he said.


 Jones said he always had a passion for the law enforcement field and pursued it at an early age. “I was interested in law enforcement when I was in high school,” he said. “I focused on the Secret Service after writing them a letter and receiving information for a paper I was working on.”

After graduating, he attended Michigan State University where he pursued a degree in criminal justice. He later continued his graduate studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

 Jones went on to have a 21-year career in the Secret Service and headed several offices, including in Seattle, Alaska and Detroit. He retired in 1983 as the special agent in charge of the Detroit office.

 “The Secret Service is a family,” he said. “Even though I’m retired, I still feel like I’m a part it.”

Jones began his presentation with a brief history of the service and talked about some presidential campaigns in which he was involved.

 “The Secret Service was created in 1865 because one-third of the money in circulation was counterfeit,” said Jones. “Before this time there was no standard for money.”

 In 1901, following the assassination of three presidents in 36 years (Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and James Garfield), Congress requested that the Secret Service protect the president full time. That protection included family members, and the vice president and his family as well. Continued…



“It wasn’t until 1968, after Sen. Rob Kennedy was assassinated, that the Secret Service became responsible for protecting presidential candidates,” said Jones.

 Jones was one of the agents who worked during the John F. Kennedy administration. He was in charge of security during the 1963 election and was supposed to be on detail that fateful day when JFK was assassinated, however he stayed behind in Washington, D.C.


 “My wife was expecting at the time and I had switched with another agent,” he said. “I stayed behind and watched his (JFK’s) kids.”

 Following the assassination of JFK, Jones was assigned to several presidential, vice presidential and foreign dignitary protective details. That included being part of the inauguration of the United States’ 39th president, Jimmy Carter, and helping guard the Queen of England during a Head of State visit in 1976.


 “You always had to be ready,” said Jones. “You always wanted to concentrate on people’s hands, not their eyes because the eyes lie.”

 Jones eventually got out of the protection side of the job and focused more on the investigative part.


 He said one of his best memories in the Secret Service was when JFK was being interviewed by Walter Cronkite. “The president was doing an interview outside, and in between takes he turned to me and asked if I had a comb,” said Jones. “Of course, I had a flattop at the time and he knew I didn’t have one, but every time after that I made sure I had a comb on me.”

He retired in 1983 and soon after took a position as the manager of security and fire protection at Ford Motor Company. He spent 14 years with the automaker before moving into the academic arena.



 Jones is currently an academic specialist in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. He is the director of the school’s Masters of Science Criminal Justice online degree program.

 A retired member of the United States Secret Service spoke to a packed room at the Mount Clemens Public Library on March 26.




About vincepalamara

Vincent Palamara was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Sociology. Although not even born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Vince brings fresh eyes to an old case. In fact, Vince would go on to study the largely overlooked actions - and inactions - of the United States Secret Service in unprecedented detail, as well as achieving a world's record in the process, having interviewed and corresponded with over 80 former agents (the House Select Committee on Assassinations had the old record of 46 with a 6 million dollar budget and subpoena power from Congress), not to mention many surviving family members, White House aides, and even quite a few Parkland and Bethesda medical witnesses for a corresponding project. The result was Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect President Kennedy. Vince is also the author of the books JFK: From Parkland To Bethesda, The Not-So-Secret Service, Who's Who in the Secret Service, and Honest Answers about the Murder of President John F. Kennedy: A New Look at the JFK Assassination. All told, Vince has been favorably mentioned in over 140 JFK and Secret Service related books to date (including two whole chapters in Murder in Dealey Plaza, The Secret Service: The Hidden History Of An Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson, and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, among many others), often at length, in the bibliographies, and in the Secret Service - and even medical evidence - areas of these works. Vince has appeared on the History Channel's THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY (VHS and DVD), C-SPAN, Newsmax TV, A COUP IN CAMELOT (DVD/BLU RAY), KING KILL '63, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT (DVD), National Geographic's JFK: THE FINAL HOURS (including on DVD), PCN, BPTV, local cable access television, YouTube, radio, newspapers, print journals, at national conferences, and all over the internet. Also, Vince's original research materials, or copies of said materials, are stored in the National Archives (by request under Deed Of Gift by the ARRB), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Harvard University, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the Dallas Public Library. Vince Palamara has become known (as he was dubbed by the History Channel in 2003) "the Secret Service expert." As former JFK Secret Service agent Joe Paolella proclaimed: "You seem to know a lot about the Secret Service, maybe even more than I do!" Agent Dan Emmett calls Vince a Secret Service expert in his new book.
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