PT-109

Today in History, August 1-2, 1943:

PT-109 (Patrol Torpedo) is patrolling Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands when it is rammed and cut in half by Japanese Destroyer Amagiri.

Two of the crew are killed outright, but 11 others survive, although some are badly injured/burned. Their very young commander carried one of the injured on his back in the mile + swim to a nearby island. He then took turns with the boat’s exec swimming back out into the channel attempting to signal other PT’s at night while avoiding Japanese patrols.

Finally they were rescued thanks to natives working for an Australian coast watcher. Lt. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who could have easily sat out the war due to his wealth, displayed incredible courage and loyalty to his crew.

One question not asked in the propaganda of his Presidential campaign was, how does a craft that is basically a speedboat, navigated by an experienced sailor, get rammed by a slow moving man-of-war? That aside, nobody can deny President Kennedy’s courage.

PT 109


Today in History, August 2: 1943 – Lt (jg) John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the crew of torpedo boat PT-109 are on patrol in Blackett Strait of the Solomon Islands when they are rammed by a Japanese destroyer, IJN Amagiri. The destroyer continued on her way; the crew of the plywood patrol boat began a days long ordeal of survival at sea. Kennedy, in spite of a bad back, towed a wounded crewman by a strap for two miles to a nearby island. He and another officer took turns swimming out into the strait attempting to flag down help. Eventually they encountered natives who were working with an Australian Coast Watcher, who arranged rescue. There was no doubt JFK’s actions were heroic, but heroes were everywhere during those years. His exploits were used during his presidential campaign to great success. He kept the coconut upon which he had written a message to the coast watcher.