When you think of President John F. Kennedy, you probably think about him as the commander in chief. But long before that, he was the commander of PT-109, a patrol torpedo boat in the Pacific during World War II.
Too young to know the story (or to have seen the movie)? Give it a read at Naval History and Heritage Command‘s website. In short, Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for leading his crew to safety after a Japanese destroyer rammed the boat and ripped it in two. The crew swam to a nearby island and survived on coconuts and water.
While a nation looks back on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, here are some links that give a glimpse at JFK’s time in uniform:
Navy Live: Remembering John F. Kennedy, President, Sailor
NHHC: Report on loss of PT-109
National Archives: John F. Kennedy and PT Boat 59
JFK Library: John F. Kennedy’s Navy ID Card