War hero president
Veteran: John F. Kennedy
Artist: Michael Koulermos
Writer: Howie Cohen
John F. Kennedy had no business going to war. He was rejected by the armed services due to his frail health and chronic back pain.
But when WWII broke out, Jack would not take no for an answer. He used the power and influence of the Kennedy name to wangle his way into the Navy. (How’s that for a twist? A rich kid pulling strings to get into harm’s way.)
After excelling in a Torpedo Boat Training Program, Jack moved up the ranks and was awarded the command of a torpedo patrol boat - PT 109. This was it. Combat action in the South Pacific. A chance to fight for freedom and the country he loved. Jack was ready.
For awhile, it was smooth sailing in the Solomons. Blue skies and calm waters made the war seem far away. But then, one dark night, that tranquility was shattered in the most savage way. A Japanese destroyer rammed PT 109 killing two of Jack's men and injuring nearly everyone else in the crew.
Jack sprang into action. After instructing all hands to abandon ship and swim toward a distant patch of land, Jack noticed that one of his men was barely conscious and unable to swim. Despite his severe back pain, Jack took the strap of the man's life jacket, held it between his teeth, and pulled his comrade all the way to shore, saving his life.
Jack and his crew had made it to Plum Pudding Island where he began to explore the surrounding area in search of help. Days passed. Food and water were scarce. Energies were sapped. Then, on the sixth day, Jack encountered two natives and came up with an ingenious idea. He carved a small secret message into the shell of a coconut. If these island men could find help, this message could save them.
Two days later, cheers erupted on Plum Pudding Island as JFK and his crew was rescued.
This is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made of. And, in fact, Jack’s story was brought to life in the inspiring war movie, PT 109.
In January 1961, when JFK was being sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, he uttered the immortal words: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
For JFK, they were words he lived by.