SAN ANTONIO – Do it scared. That is South Texas resident Kathryn Childers’ mantra.
When her father was teaching her how to shoot a 22 rifle as a little girl, she told her father “Daddy, I’m scared.”
His reply: then do it scared.
And she did.
It’s how she has lived her whole life, including being one of the first five women to become a Secret Service agent back in 1970.
“Any major federal service in the country, they had never hired women,” Kathryn Childers said. “And when they did, I think we all were frightened of the fact that if we failed, we would probably fail for all women because it was essentially an experiment.”
For the three years she spent being an agent she protected a wide range of people, from presidents to world leaders. She was fondly called the “Pistol Packin’ Nanny” when she was charged with protecting the Kennedy children -- Caroline and John Jr. -- while traveling with former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
“To be in that position of responsibility for her, for the nation that had just been heartbroken for those children, it was it was quite an amazing assignment,” Childers said.
She recalls one of the last conversations she had with the former First Lady.
“Jacqueline Kennedy, the last time I saw her, she said ‘Miss Clark, (Kathryn’s maiden name) you live such an interesting life,’ because I had just returned from protecting the Queen of Spain at the Apollo 14 blastoff where Neil Armstrong was sitting to my right,” Childers said.
Childers’ life didn’t stop getting interesting just because she left the Secret Service in 1973. She moved to Corpus Christi, where she married her husband.
She became one of the first women in Corpus Christi to anchor a morning show and also hosted the show “South Texas People” on KIII TV 3News for 17 years.
Childers then started a number of charities in Corpus Christi and has since written a couple of books, including her newest one, “Scared Fearless’' about her time as a Secret Service agent.
And by the way, those first five women didn’t fail.
“Fifty years later, we’re still alive,” Childers said. “The five of us still communicate, and they just celebrated the 50th anniversary of women. And there are now 500 women in the Secret Service, which started with the five. Are there enough now? Are there enough men now? Is there always the perfect situation? No, but we’ve we got the door open now. My message is keep going forward, keep being positive and work together to make the whole mission or whatever you’re doing better.”
Childers book is available now, you can check it out here.