August 2, 1943 – As a young lieutenant in the US Navy, future president John F. Kennedy commands torpedo boat PT-109 in operations against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands.
On the night of August 2, PT-109 is run down by a Japanese destroyer and quickly sinks. Two crewman are killed, and the 11 survivors cling to wreckage throughout the night. The following day they swim to a small uninhabited island (today known as Kennedy Island) where they are forced to hide from Japanese patrol aircraft and boats.
JFK swims to another island in search of help and makes contact with two local islanders who carry a rescue message from Kennedy carved into a coconut to the nearest US base. The survivors are rescued, and the action makes Kennedy a war hero. The carved coconut was preserved and displayed on his desk in the Oval Office throughout his presidency.
Visit the Solomon Islands on our Guadalcanal Anniversary Tour. We can also arrange an extension tour to Kennedy Island.