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                US Flag Flown on the PT 109
                        JFK Library Photo

August 2, 1943


Rendova, Tulagi (JFK+50) Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy’s patrol-torpedo boat, “PT 109” , was rammed & sunk near here today in the Blackett Strait of the Solomon Islands.

The Japanese destroyer, Amagiri, plowed through the torpedo-patrol boat at 2:30 a.m. 

The destroyer, moving at a high rate of speed, left JFK’s boat split in half & in flames as spilled fuel ignited.

The hull stayed afloat & Lt. Kennedy, who had been at the helm at the time of the collision, was able to round up all but 2 of his crew after 3 hours.

          JFK at the Helm of  PT109
            Kennedy Library Photo

The two missing sailors are Andrew Kirksey & Harold Marney.

The surviving crew include JFK, Leonard J. Thom, Raymond Albert, Charles A. Harris, William Johnston, George Ross, Edgar Mauer, John McGuire, Patrick H. “Pappy” McMahon, Raymond Starkey & Gerald Zinser.

The most badly injured crewman, “Pappy” McMahon, had been at his post below deck in the engine room at the time of the collision.  

By dawn, JFK decided to abandon his sinking hull & ordered his men to make a swim to nearby Plum Pudding Island.

The sailors placed a lantern & their shoes on top of pieces of timber that had been used to secure their 37mm gun.  

JFK, clenching the strap of a life preserver put around McMahon’s waist, towed the badly burned sailor while doing the breast stroke.

The mishap was observed by Australian coastwatcher Reginald Evans.

At 6:30 this evening, after having gotten his surviving crew safely to the island, Lt. Kennedy swam out alone into Ferguson Passage in a vain attempt to flag down a passing friendly ship.*

*The PT109 was launched on June 20, 1942.  It was 80 feet long & had 4 torpedo tubes, a 20mm cannon, 4 machine guns & a 37 mm anti-tank gun.
The 109, like all PTs, was made of wood & ran on highly flammable aviation fuel.

Check back tomorrow for further details.

“In ’43 they put to sea 13 men & Kennedy
 Aboard the PT109 to fight the brazen enemy
 And off the isle of Olasana in the strait beyond Naru
A Jap destroyer in the night cut the 109 in two.

Smoke & fire upon the sea
Everywhere they looked was the enemy
The heathen gods of old Japan
Yeah, they thought they had the best of a mighty good man.”

“PT 109”
Recorded by Jimmy Dean (1961)
Written by Fred Burch & Marijohn Wilkin

August 2, 1960


Hyde Park, New York (JFK+50) Former 1st Lady & wife of one of the most popular presidents in US history, Eleanor Roosevelt today gave her endorsement to the KENNEDY-JOHNSON ticket.

Mrs. Roosevelt had been reluctant to give her support to the young Massachusetts senator believing that he lacked true “liberal” credentials.

                  FDR Library Photo

August 2, 1961


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Kennedy today met with Chinese Premier Chen Cheng at the White House.

JFK restated American opposition to the seating of Communist China at the United Nations.

This evening Premier Cheng gave a dinner in JFK’s honor at the Mayflower Hotel.

JFK also met this afternoon with C. Douglas Dillon who is to lead the American delegation to the Punta del Este Conference of the Inter-American Economic & Social Council at Montevideo.

                C. Douglas Dillon
        Portrait by Charles J. Fox

August 2, 1963


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Kennedy welcomed delegates of Girls Nation to the nation’s capital today & addressed the group in the Rose Garden of the White House.

JFK said:

“Last week we had a group of boys from Boys Nation & I said they show more initiative that the governors which got me into a great deal of difficulty.  So I will be very careful today & say that you are more beautiful than the governors.”

            JFK Welcomes Girls Nation
                        August 2, 1963
                Photo by Abby Rowe 
             Kennedy Library Photo

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