Published: Mar 30, 2011 5:30 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 30, 2011 2:32 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.-- Estero resident Jim Varey was assigned to President Ronald Reagan's secret service detail on March 30, 1981-- the day John Hinckley, Jr. tried to kill the Commander in Chief.

Americans still remember that day thanks to video footage from the scene, but Varey says it's a day he does not think about often.

He can recall the moment the shots were fired.

"The body is moving long before the mind has time to think of what is going on. Which I think applies to all of us," Varey said. "Because as soon as the first two shots rang out, everybody was moving without having to question in your mind what's happening."

The now 68-year-old says White House Press Secretary James Brady collapsed at his feet. He'd been shot in the head.

"I leaned down, knelt down next to Jim Brady and asked him if he could hear me and he groaned as if he could," Varey recalled. "I told him not to try to get up that we would get medical assistance there very quickly which we did."

That day three decades ago went down in history as both a failure and a victory for the Secret Service. Security had been breached and President Reagan was shot, but the reaction was swift and the President was back in the White House less than two weeks later.

"The secret service responded very admirably that day," Varey said. "I'm very proud of the fact that we were able to evacuate President Reagan and the fact that he survived."

Varey went on to become the Chief of The United States Capitol Police before moving to Southwest Florida, where he now lives with his wife.

The man responsible for the shooting, then 25-year-old John Hinckley, Jr. was indicted, but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

He remains at confined to a mental institution.