J. F. Kennedy and PT59

 

J. F. Kennedy and PT59

Settle down, before you get yourself in a tizzy regarding the number on JFK’s PT boat. I was reading one of the many books I have on Kennedy when I came across a session he had with his “Irish Mafia.” Kennedy passed around a letter from Marine Major Bigger while remarking, “Isn’t that nice of him.”

        Isn’t what nice of him? The author never told us. So I immediately googled this Major Bigger. Once I had the facts, I needed a way to get it into Rory O’Donnell and the Kennedys. I finally included it in O’Donnell’s December 1963, Chicago Tribune storyline. Here’s an excerpt from that story’s newspaper column.

Last night, I stood in the freezing cold along with a dozen

others, lighting tapers from the eternal flame at President Kennedy’s grave. After transferring the blaze to candles, we processed to the Lincoln Memorial where thousands awaited, proudly offering their candles before passing the glow from one to the next until all bore Kennedy’s eternal light. Then we sang, prayed, and cried in remembrance of a great man. Looking around at other kindred souls, I tried to understand the dichotomy between those last night and those in Dallas, one month ago.

        I have in my possession a poster of the President, full face and profile, captioned, “Wanted for Treason.”

This brought to mind, November 1943, Marines, escaping on a sinking L.C.P.R. when their engine stalled, were being pushed by the waves back into the waiting guns of the Japanese. Just when all hope had deserted, one frenzied voice rose above the others, “Here’s a PT boat.”

Kennedy steered the old, overloaded, re-converted PT59 between the shore and the sinking landing craft, his crew making room to take every survivor aboard.

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