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Excerpt from Del Queintin Wilbur’s new book Rawhide Down, The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan:

As the president’s limousine hurtled away from the Hilton, Jerry Parr glanced out the Lincoln’s rear window. He counted three men down and wondered who had been hit. Turning, he noticed the telltale marks of a projectile’s impact on the right rear door’s bulletproof window. Parr had no idea what was happening. Was this a terrorist attack? Was the world at war? It occurred to him that he might have been hurt too, but he gave himself a quick once-over and decided he was fine. He took a deep breath, turned to the president, and helped him into the limousine’s right rear seat. Reagan sat slumped forward—he looked like an exhausted basketball player taking a breather on the bench.

“Were you hit?” Parr asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” Reagan said. “I think you hurt my chest when you landed on top of me.”

Parr quickly examined Reagan’s mouth and nose for damage or obstructions, then ran his hands along the president’s white shirt and through his hair. He felt nothing unusual. He inspected his own hands. No blood. Thank God, he thought.

Parr fumbled for the radio strapped to his belt, but it wasn’t there. In the scramble for the car, it had been ripped away from his earpiece and sleeve microphone. Parr swiveled to the limousine’s driver, Drew Unrue. “Give me the radio.”

Unrue handed him the microphone, its cord connected to the dashboard.

“Rawhide is OK, follow-up,” Parr radioed agent Ray Shaddick in the follow-up car. “Rawhide is OK.”

“You want to go to the hospital or back to the White House?” Shaddick asked.

“We’re going, we’re going to Crown,” Parr said, using the code name for the White House.

“OK,” Shaddick replied.

A few seconds later, Parr turned back to Reagan. Despite his assurance that he was all right, the president looked as if he was in pain.

“I think you hurt my rib,” he growled. “I’m having trouble breathing.”

“Is it your heart?” Parr asked.

“I don’t think so,” Reagan replied.

Reagan was pressing his left arm hard against his chest. Reaching into his right jacket pocket, he pulled out a paper napkin that he’d taken from the hotel’s holding room. He wiped it on his lips. When he pulled the napkin away, it was coated in blood.

“I think I cut the inside of my mouth,” the president said.

Half kneeling, half sitting in the speeding limousine, Parr leaned in and studied the napkin. Then he spotted more blood on the president’s lips.

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  1. “Honey, I forgot to duck.” -to his wife, Nancy, after surviving the assassination attempt

    Say what you will about him, he was one tough dude.

  2. Here’s a question for all you TTAGagetciacallits: shots have been fired in your direction and you’re not sure whether or not you’ve been hit. What do you check first? And how?

  3. Having never thought about this (thanks for the question), I would look down at my chest and stomach, then arms and legs. For the areas I could not see I would feel about my head and face. Doing this from cover if possible. Truth be told I’m not sure I would think to do this unless I felt pain or wetness. Again, good question.

  4. While riding my motorcycle one night I was broadsided by a car, as I pulled away from the gas pumps. the yupie was cutting across the parking lot to get to the video store.

    I went up the hood into the windshield then rolled off and landed on all fours next to the drivers front tire. In a split second the world went topsy turvy on me. AS I stood up and looked around I noticed this car next to me, and my bike laying on its side running about 45 feet from me. The windshield had two aprge spider webs, one from my head one from my shoulder.

    I was in a heavy leather jacket, jeans, boots and a t-shirt.

    As i stood up and figured out what had just happened I took an inventory of my self. first I ran my fingers,hand through my hair. It was short so not problem. No blood. Then I looked at my arms for things sticking out that shouldn’t an was aware they woere both responding to my thinking. Next I ran my hands down each leg to see if something wasn’t where it should be, no blood everything seemed to be working.

    I started to walk over to my bike to turn it off when the bull showed up. I mean it felt like a brama bull from the rodeo had just did a dance on me as I hurt all over. I might was weel have stepped in front of a train. It took about three steps before it all registered.

    At that point I turned around and made my way back tot he pump island some 20-25 feet away. I got there and say down,c ause it was the only thing I could do.

    By this time several peole came running up to me. I asled for a cell phone soI could call my wife and someone called an ambulance. I was banged up but not really hurt. But you need to take inventory of your self after something like a shooting or accident. The adreniline will kick in and mask a lot for some period of time as very few injuries are immediately incopassating.

  5. I too was hit by a car on my motorcycle (hit and run). I was knocked off of my Harley doing about 30 mph. I hit the pavement on my side and rolled for a few yards. I was stunned, but not in pain. I managed to drag myself about 10 feet to the curb because I could see oncoming traffic stopped at the light and it was night time and I had a black jacket and helmet on. The pain did not start until after I got to the ER. Turns out I had shattered my right clavicle in 6 places, broken most of my ribs on my right side and one of them had punctured my lung. But I had no real visible external injuries except for a little bit of road rash on my left hand knuckles.

  6. I realize this is a late response, but did I just hear James Brady say he’s “like to give [John Hinkley] a taste of his own medicine”? How, pray tell, would you do that, Mr. Brady, if your organization has taken away all your firearms?


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