Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat commanded by future United States President John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Kennedy's actions after the sinking of the PT-109 allowed him to claim "war hero" status in his political career, and may have contributed to his long-term back problems.
Kennedy's idling boat was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri on August 2, 1943 in the Blackett Strait between Kolombangara and Arundel in the Solomon Islands, cutting it in half and killing two of his men. Kennedy led the survivors, clinging to the wreckage of the boat, to safety on the deserted Plum Pudding Island . An article about the experience was printed in Reader's Digest just before Kennedy's first Congressional run, and the campaign reproduced the article and distributed it to potential voters.
Though Kennedy emerged a hero (awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for bravery) many in the military including Douglas MacArthur thought he should have faced a court-martial for losing his boat in such a manner.
The wreckage of PT-109 may have been located; a May 2002 a National Geographic expedition headed by Robert Ballard found wreckage matching the description and location of Kennedy's vessel in the Solomon Islands . However, under current Navy policy, the wreckage site is a gravesite and may not be disturbed.
- Robert J. Donovan , PT 109: John F. Kennedy in WWII (1961) ISBN 0071376437
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