JFK WII hero ?

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DavidFrankenberg
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JFK WII hero ?

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 23 Jan 2023 21:59

Hi,

JFK before being president became famous the first time during WWII.
I am still not sure if it was deserved or if JFK's father was behind this story.

In wiki.en it is said that JFK swam for several miles trailing a wounded comrade... I wonder if it is possible since JFL os also supposed to have back issues (he was initially refused in the army because of that indeed).
His father's money would have bought the testimonies of others.

I wonder if this was questioned by some journalistes or historians since.

Happy new year 2023 !

reedwh52
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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by reedwh52 » 24 Jan 2023 02:11

The original documentation is a report entitled "Sinking of PT-109 and subsequent rescue of survivors" dated August 22. 1943 and completed by Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla One" at Rendova in the Solomon Islands. It detailed the loss of PT-109 on the night of August 1/2 1943 and the subsequent recovery of the crew on August 8.

DavidFrankenberg
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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 24 Jan 2023 19:24

Thanks Reed.

For example :
Kennedy swam out to McMahon and Charles Harris. Kennedy towed the injured McMahon by a life-vest strap, and alternately cajoled and berated the exhausted Harris to get him through the difficult swim.
(...)
Kennedy had been on the swim team at Harvard; even towing McMahon by a belt clamped in his teeth, he was undaunted by the distance.
(...)

Exhausted, Kennedy had to be helped up the beach by the man he had towed. He collapsed and waited for the rest of the crew. But Kennedy's swimming was not over.
(...)
Kennedy decided to swim down into Ferguson Passage, through which the American PT boats passed when they were operating in Blackett Strait. Island-hopping and clinging to reefs, Kennedy made his way out into the passage, where he treaded water for an hour
(...)
The return voyage nearly killed him as strong currents spun him out into Blackett Strait and then back into Ferguson Passage. Making the weary trip again, Kennedy stopped on Leorava Island, southeast of Bird Island, where he slept long enough to recoup himself for the final leg of the trip. Returning to Bird Island, Kennedy slept through the day but also made Ross promise to go out on the same trip that night.
(...)
. Kennedy again hauled McMahon by the strap of his life vest
(...)
That night Kennedy took the canoe into Ferguson Passage once more
(...)
Kennedy decided to take the canoe back to Olasana
(...)
The next morning, August 6, Kennedy returned with Gasa and Kumana to Naru, intercepting Ross along the way as he was swimming back.
https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about- ... and-pt-109

The article recalls that JFK was member of the swimming team in Harvard. But it does not mention that he was discharged of the army because a back problem.

Anybody has an idea how many miles JFK is supposed to have swam ? how many hours ? This seems too big for me.
Does it really happen the way it is said ? Im curious.

Im interested in the testimonies of the surviving crew.

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 24 Jan 2023 19:30

JFK is presented as a good simmer, member of the Harvard swimming team.

Yes, he was. He was also a member of the football team, BUT :
Kennedy reportedly suffered a spinal injury during his sophomore season, according to Michael O’Brien’s biography, which purportedly contributed to the president’s longterm back problems.

Kennedy was also a solid swimmer at Harvard. Like football, he swam for two years — mainly competing in the 100-meter backstroke and 300-meter medley relay. But health issues also marred his swimming career, as the Harvard Crimson recalled in a 1960 article.

Harold Ulen, varsity coach at the time, remembers him as a good swimmer, but not an outstanding one. Jack was very thin at the time and had spells of sickness, Ulen recalled.

During one of these spells he was in Stillman Infirmary when Ulen was scheduled to hold time trials for the Yale meet. Jack’s roommate, football captain Torby MacDonald, smuggled food into his room and then smuggled him out of the infirmary in time for the trials. Tragically enough, he failed to qualify.
https://www.boston.com/news/history/201 ... t-harvard/

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by LineDoggie » 24 Jan 2023 20:50

DavidFrankenberg wrote:
23 Jan 2023 21:59
Hi,



In wiki.en it is said that JFK swam for several miles trailing a wounded comrade... I wonder if it is possible since JFL os also supposed to have back issues (he was initially refused in the army because of that indeed).


Happy new year 2023 !
You do understand in water people tend to have buoyancy making it easier than dragging along on ground.

https://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/float36.htm
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

DavidFrankenberg
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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 24 Jan 2023 22:56

LineDoggie wrote:
24 Jan 2023 20:50
DavidFrankenberg wrote:
23 Jan 2023 21:59
Hi,



In wiki.en it is said that JFK swam for several miles trailing a wounded comrade... I wonder if it is possible since JFL os also supposed to have back issues (he was initially refused in the army because of that indeed).


Happy new year 2023 !
You do understand in water people tend to have buoyancy making it easier than dragging along on ground.

https://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/float36.htm
Thank you for this scientific reference. But I use to swim myself for decades : in pool, in lakes, in sea... Swimming several miles in open sea is already very hard even for a good swimmer. So, swimming several miles dragging another people is just... very very hard. Just ask any life guard.
This story seems to me fairytale. I doubt that JFK, not an outstanding swimmer, with back issues, could be able to do something of this kind.

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by LineDoggie » 24 Jan 2023 23:50

DavidFrankenberg wrote:
24 Jan 2023 22:56

Thank you for this scientific reference. But I use to swim myself for decades : in pool, in lakes, in sea... Swimming several miles in open sea is already very hard even for a good swimmer. So, swimming several miles dragging another people is just... very very hard. Just ask any life guard.
This story seems to me fairytale. I doubt that JFK, not an outstanding swimmer, with back issues, could be able to do something of this kind.
Well, you think it was a fairy tale, no one else does and there is no evidence the incident was faked so Occams law in effect it actually happened until you can prove otherwise.

as to open sea it was hardly the north Atlantic in a winter storm, it was a channel between several islands on a relatively calm day/night the distance approximately 4 miles to Plum Pudding island and a few days later to another island some 4 miles away, the injured man was also wearing a life jacket which would further his buoyancy.
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by OpanaPointer » 25 Jan 2023 01:02

When I was stationed in Puerto Rico we swam "Shark Channel" frequently. (It was swimsuits optional.) Never had trouble getting around, especially with 30-40 barracudas swam with us. They were curious but not aggressive.
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T. A. Gardner
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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 25 Jan 2023 02:56

What most people forget is that Kennedy, after the sinking of PT 109 refused to return to the US and was reassigned to command PT 59, staying in the Pacific and continuing to fight.

Image

Unlike PT 109, PT-59 was fitted out as an inshore gunboat with 2 x 40mm guns and numerous 20mm and .50 caliber guns as you can see in the picture.

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by reedwh52 » 25 Jan 2023 15:17

The report I cited in #2 above was compiled from the survivor interviews at the time of their recovery. These survivors were the only individuals who had first hand knowledge of the incident. To the best of my knowledge, none of them ever contradicted the report.

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by Ponury » 25 Jan 2023 19:36

By the way. For us, JFK is also an important figure. In the summer of 1939 he came to Warsaw before the war, where he wrote a report for his father about our heroism, from what I remember the US ambassador in London. The report ended with a statement like "very brave Poles, the Germans will have only problems with them as they will attack them." He wasn't mistaken. Ours fought with them throughout the war, on land, at sea, in the air. And as our famous hero General Maczek recalled, as the Germans again in 1944 saw his tanks of the 1st Polish Armored Division under Falaise "these damn Poles again!" :)

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 27 Jan 2023 12:42

LineDoggie wrote:
24 Jan 2023 23:50
DavidFrankenberg wrote:
24 Jan 2023 22:56

Thank you for this scientific reference. But I use to swim myself for decades : in pool, in lakes, in sea... Swimming several miles in open sea is already very hard even for a good swimmer. So, swimming several miles dragging another people is just... very very hard. Just ask any life guard.
This story seems to me fairytale. I doubt that JFK, not an outstanding swimmer, with back issues, could be able to do something of this kind.
Well, you think it was a fairy tale, no one else does and there is no evidence the incident was faked so Occams law in effect it actually happened until you can prove otherwise.

as to open sea it was hardly the north Atlantic in a winter storm, it was a channel between several islands on a relatively calm day/night the distance approximately 4 miles to Plum Pudding island and a few days later to another island some 4 miles away, the injured man was also wearing a life jacket which would further his buoyancy.
Do you know if any of these witnesses did testify after 1942 ? Did they write anything or give any interview about this event ?

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by Hans1906 » 27 Jan 2023 18:51

My german mother Ingrid left the book "The Torch is passed" behind, the first english edition.

I have no idea from whom she received this book at the time, it was hidden in her private bookcase, which was always locked.

The book was not available in Germany at the time, not the first edition.
Someone sent this book to my mother, for whatever reason, Ingrid was never a person to talk about something like that.

The lady carried a lot around with her, only years after her death did I begin to understand my mother, a tormented soul, lonely and forgotten.

A traumatized child's soul, how I would love to hold my mother in my arms only once again.


Hans
The paradise of the successful lends itself perfectly to a hell for the unsuccessful. (Bertold Brecht on Hollywood)

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by reedwh52 » 27 Jan 2023 22:02

David:

Those survivors still alive in 1960 campaigned for Kennedy. The last survivor (Gerald Zinser) indicated that the account was accurate.

I would suggest that, if you have evidence of inaccuracy, that you provide it.

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Re: JFK WII hero ?

Post by rcocean » 28 Jan 2023 02:40

JFK's back injury and his addison's disease are established fact. See this link https://www.spineuniverse.com/condition ... s-revealed - for details.

One can swim quite well with a "bad back" since there are all kinds of "Bad backs". FDR was paralyzed due to polio and could also swim well. Swimming doesn't put weight on the back. There is no jarring or pressure on the spine as there is with running or jogging.

JFK was 26 years old in 1943, and could function with a bad back in PT-109. According to the Clay Blair book, he was often in pain after a Motorboat mission because the pounding hurt his back.

Be that as it is. JFK was a hero for this reason: He was a wealthy intelligent man who could have snapped his fingers and gotten a draft deferment or an easy, safe job in the rear. Instead, despite being 4F, he pulled strings to get himself into the war. And he sought and got a combat assignment. Maybe his exploits were exaggerated later on for political reasons. So what!

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