JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS
This summer -- August 2011 -- I received an email from the grandson of Aaron Kumana -- one of the two Solomon Island natives who saved JFK and his PT 109 crewmates 68 years ago in August 1943. See SOLOMON RESCUER KUMANA HONORS JFK
Kumana is now almost ninety years old. He was nineteen when he and fellow coastwatcher scout, Biuku Gaza spotted JFK on a tiny palm-treed island five days after PT 109 had been destroyed by a Japanese destroyer and all thirteen men on board reported missing and presumed dead.
To appreciate the godcidental role Kumana and Gaza played in JFK's destiny (and through JFK the destiny of mankind) a person needs to understand the events leading up to JFK's rescue.
During WWII John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a 27-year-old lieutenant in the USA Navy stationed in the Solomon Islands fighting against the Japanese.
JFK was the skipper of PT 109, a "patrol torpedo" boat -- so-named because they "patrolled" the waterways looking for enemy targets to fire their "torpedoes" at.
PT boats were nicknamed "mosquitoes" because they were fast little boats that 'buzzed' around much bigger boats trying to sting them.
JFK arrived in the Solomon Islands in April 1943 and was given command of PT 109 which, at the time, was a cockroach-infested wreck sitting in dry dock waiting for its bullet-ridden hull to be repaired after ten months active duty in the battle for Guadalcanal. JFK and his crew of eleven -- all transferred from previous duty on other boats -- did the refurbishing work themselves to get PT 109 shipshape to pass inspection. JFK had great rapport with all his men and they loved and respected him as their leader.
Over the next four months PT 109 was engaged in many battles against Japanese aircraft and boats trying to hold on to the Solomon Islands still in their control.
On Sunday, August 1st -- just after nightfall -- PT 109 and eight other PT boats left their home base on RENDOVA island and sailed down Ferguson Passage to Blackett Strait.
Blackett Strait is the narrow channel that Japanese convoys travelled every night carrying troops and supplies back and forth to their bases on the surrounding islands. The mission of the PT boats, under cover of darkness, was to attack and sink the supply ships. On this particular night it was exceptionally dark with no moon or stars.
Close to midnight some of the other PT boats in the group came upon a Japanese destroyer and fired their torpedoes, but missed, then headed back to the base at RENDOVA. PT 109 and two other boats -- one with radar but not JFK's -- stayed in the channel waiting to intercept anything else that came along.
A couple hours later, around 2:30am, PT 109 was puttering along on one engine -- being as quiet as possible to listen -- when out of nowhere the huge bow of a Japanese destroyer loomed up on the right (starboard) and before JFK could accelerate to get out of the way -- they were hit.
Like a knife cutting through butter the destoyer sliced PT 109 in half through the center. The stern exploded into a fireball and lit up the sky all around with fuel burning from its tanks. JFK, in the bow holding onto the steering wheel, was lifted up and smashed back against the wall of the cockpit -- injuring his already injured back. Most of the other men were tossed into the air on impact and thrown hundreds of feet away into the burning sea.
The Japanese destroyer didn't even slow down -- just kept moving full steam ahead seemingly oblivious to the death and destruction left behind in its wake.
For the next several hours JFK and other survivors not thrown from the boat, swam out in the direction of the drifting voices calling for help and brought burned and broken men back to what was left of PT 109 -- its bow, half sunk, tipping upward at an angle.
When the sun came up that morning -- Monday, August 2nd -- eleven survivors were stretched out on the bow of PT 109 -- the stern having sunk taking two men -- Kirksey and Marney -- down with it. The names of the eleven survivors were: Albert, Harris, Johnston, Kennedy, Maguire, Mauer, McMahon, Ross, Starkey, Thom and Zinser
JFK knew exactly where they were located -- and the names of the main islands that surrounded them -- Kolombangara and Gizo -- and the ones farther away whose volcanic peaks could be seen -- Vella Lavella, New Georgia and Rendova (from where they'd set out the night before). They were close enough to Gizo and Kolombangara to see Japanese soldiers on shore and knew they were sitting ducks if the enemy looked their way. By late afternoon, when no PT boats had come to rescue them, and no planes had flown overhead searching for them, JFK decided they'd swim to one of the nearby islands for cover.
There was a group of islands in the distance, shaped like a chain and anchor, the bottom one, NARU, facing toward RENDOVA, but looking strategic enough to maybe be occupied by Japanese. Closer, about three-and-a-half miles away, was a less important-looking island -- shaped like PLUM PUDDING and obscured from Gizo by a bigger island -- and that's the one JFK chose as their destination.
The men were nervous about the swim -- terrified of getting attacked by sharks or being spotted by Japanese aircraft -- but PT 109 had turned turtle and was about to sink anytime soon so they really had no choice.
Most people have heard the story of the swim to PLUM PUDDING -- how JFK swam the breast stroke pulling the badly burned McMahon on his back behind him -- the strap of his lifejacket between JFK's teeth -- while the other nine crew members -- in various degrees of injury and swimming ability -- kicked along together holding onto a 2-ft by 8-ft wooden plank. Four hours later -- just before sunset -- they all scrambled ashore on PLUM PUDDING and collapsed in exhaustion under a canopy of palm trees. A few minutes later a Japanese barge slowly chugged along the shore a couple hundred yards away -- but it kept on going to GIZO.
After recuperating for a couple of hours -- with no food or water -- JFK headed out on the hardest swim of his life -- the one all his training on the Harvard Swim team had prepared him for -- into Ferguson Passage to flag down the PT boats that would be repeating their mission of the night before -- sailing from RENDOVA island to Blackett Strait to intercept the Japanese supply lines. JFK had a lantern to shine -- the one they'd carried on the plank from PT 109 -- and a pistol to shoot to get their attention.
JFK stripped down to his skivvies and, wearing shoes and a rubber life belt -- with the gun on a rope hanging from his neck, and pulling the lantern behind on a lifejacket attached to his waist -- he swam two miles to the small islands that formed the anchor at the bottom of the chain -- and crawled onto the one next to NARU. From there JFK swam straight out into Ferguson Passage to where he knew the PT boats would be passing that night. He treaded water for hours waiting for them -- but they never came. For the first time ever their route had been changed and this time they wouldn't be going through Ferguson Passage.
JFK tried to swim back to the little island next to NARU but got caught in a current and in the pitch black darkness he couldn't see where he was going. He drifted all night into Blackett Strait but at dawn the current changed and helped wash him up on the shore he'd been aiming for. He collapsed on the rough coral sand of the beach and, clinging to some scrawny bushes, fell asleep for a couple of hours. When he woke up JFK walked out onto the reef as far as he could -- tearing his feet on the coral because he'd kicked off his shoes during the night -- and then swam out into the ocean for the two miles back to PLUM PUDDING.
At PLUM PUDDING island -- this Tuesday, August 3rd -- the ten survivors feared the worst when JFK hadn't come back. A sudden rain shower drenched them all and they licked coconut leaves to quench their thirst but the leaves were coated in bird droppings and tasted awful. From then on they called their new home BIRD island. They spent the morning climbing palm trees and picking un-ripe coconuts and figuring out how to crack them open to get the meat and milk.
Then, all of a sudden, they looked up and saw JFK staggering onto the reef toward the beach. They ran and grabbed him before he collapsed and carried him to safety under the bushes. He was too exhausted to talk -- other than to say "No" when they asked if he'd seen any PT boats. He was violently sick -- throwing up salt water and shivering -- and then he fell asleep. When he woke up later that morning he told his next in command - Ross - that he'd have to swim to Ferguson Passage that night.
Ross swam out from PLUM PUDDING late in the afternoon -- wanting to get to the tiny island near NARU before dark so he'd be rested for swimming into Ferguson Passage at nightfall -- where he treaded water for a couple of hours -- as had JFK -- until he decided the PT boats wouldn't be coming this night either. He swam back to the little island and slept there that night -- then swam back to PLUM PUDDING in the morning to tell everyone there'd been no luck.
JFK was awake and feeling better when Ross got back to PLUM PUDDING, but the men were very discouraged that there'd been no PT boats for a second night in a row. By this time -- Wednesday, August 4th -- it had been almost three full days since the men had last eaten on Sunday afternoon at their base on RENDOVA island. To keep their spirits up -- and in hopes of finding riper coconuts on another island -- JFK decided they'd leave PLUM PUDDING and swim to OLASANA island -- the one at the bottom of the chain just above where the anchor islands spread out. That way they'd be closer to Ferguson Passage -- with just NARU in between -- and also closer to RENDOVA.
Once again JFK pulled McMahon on his back behind him -- with the strap of the lifejacket between his teeth -- and the others held onto the plank. It was almost two miles to OLASANA and it took a few hours to get there -- the current against them being stronger the closer they got.
When the men got to OLASANA they settled in under the palm trees and the bushes just up from the beach where they'd landed -- not wanting to venture any further into the island, in case it was inhabited by Japanese. They gathered coconuts but after eating them quite a few of the men got sick -- including JFK and McMahon. It rained that night and they huddled together for warmth listening to the wind and the waves thundering on the coral reef. Their clothes were wet from the swim and the rain and some of their injuries were getting infected.
The next morning -- Thursday, August 5th -- JFK decided that he and Ross would swim the half-mile across to NARU island for an unobstructed view facing RENDOVA island thirty-eight miles away. He left Thom in charge of the men.
When JFK and Ross got to NARU they walked across the palm-treed island from the bottom shore to the top and came out on the beach facing Ferguson Passage. They saw a small Japanese boat smashed up on the coral reef a mile or so out. They turned left to walk along the beach and found a wooden crate washed up on shore and inside were hard candies shaped like tear drops. A little further along they spotted a dugout canoe hidden in some bushes under a tree and beside it a large tin of rainwater -- which they found out later was a native supply cache. After drinking their share of the water they walked back out onto the beach.
All of a sudden two men stood up from under the wreckage on the reef and faced them -- then jumped quickly into a dugout canoe and paddled away. JFK and Ross had instantaneously jumped back into the bushes, thinking the men were Japanese. They nervously waited to see if the men would return but when they didn't they carried on exploring NARU -- finding nothing and nobody else.
Using a wooden slat from the washed-up crate as a paddle JFK rowed the dugout to OLASANA to take the candies and water to the crew. He left Ross behind on NARU because he planned to come back later and the two of them would paddle the canoe into Ferguson Passage for another attempt to flag down PT boats that night.
When JFK got back to OLASANA he was amazed to see a canoe and two native men with the crew. After much initial confusion -- and using sign language to communicate -- it turned out that these were the two men JFK and Ross had seen on NARU -- who they thought had been Japanese. Meanwhile, the natives -- Aaron Kumana and Biuku Gaza -- had told the survivors on OLASANA that they'd seen two Japanese on NARU (thinking that's who JFK and Ross had been). It was a relief to everyone that it was merely a case of mistaken identity and there WERE no enemy on NARU.
When Kumana and Gaza had come upon NARU they'd been on the way back from WANA WANA island to their scout-base on an island between PLUM PUDDING and GIZO. Seeing the Japanese wreck on the reef they'd pulled over looking for something to salvage. After being scared off by JFK and Ross they were thirsty from the exertion and instead of turning right to paddle toward GIZO they turned left toward OLASANA to get some coconut milk to drink.
As they approached the beach of OLASANA they were spotted by the Americans and Thom ran out from under the trees to beckon them to come ashore. At first they were terrified -- thinking Thom was Japanese -- and they turned to paddle away. But Thom rolled up his sleeve and showed them his arm saying "me USA, me USA" and some of the others came out of the bush. The natives were still a bit nervous but one of the survivors spoke the name of the native coastwatcher on WANA WANA and this partially reassured them. But the clincher came when Thom pointed to the sky and said "white star, white star" which was the American logo on the fighter planes.
That night Kumana and Gaza stayed on OLASANA with the Americans and started a fire by rubbing two sticks together -- and giving them cigarettes they'd found in the wreck on NARU.
The next morning -- Friday, August 6 -- JFK swam back to OLASANA from NARU where he and Ross had slept after smashing the canoe on a reef in another failed attempt to intercept PT boats sailing through Ferguson Passage. JFK asked Kumana and Gaza to take him back to NARU where he pointed to RENDOVA island, 38-miles up Ferguson Passage, and asked them to take a message to the PT commander there. While JFK was looking for something to write on, Kumana climbed up a palm tree and brought down a coconut. He peeled off the hard shell then handed it to JFK and showed him how to write on the skin with his knife. JFK was so amazed he took Kumana's head in his hands and gave it a friendly shake. Then he wrote on the coconut:
Kumana and Gaza got into their canoe and started on their journey with the coconut. They stopped at WANA WANA island and told the native coastwatcher there that eleven Americans were alive on OLASANA and needed food and water desperately -- then they proceeded on toward RENDOVA.
After Kumana and Gaza left WANA WANA the native coastwatcher there sent native scouts in a canoe to a little island in the middle of Blackett Strait -- GOMU -- to wait there for the Australian coastwatcher -- Evans -- who would be moving his base there that night from his previous lookout on KOLOMBANGARA island (from where he'd seen PT 109 explode Sunday night and debris on Monday morning and had radioed a report to USA headquarters in Guadalcanal and told his native scouts to be looking for any survivors). Upon hearing from the scouts that survivors had been found on OLASANA Evans radioed the news to Guadalcanal with word that native scouts were on the way to RENDOVA with a message.
The next morning -- Saturday, August 7th -- Evans sent seven natives in a canoe to OLASANA with food and drinks for the survivors and a note to the senior officer -- that was JFK -- telling him to return with the natives to GOMU to help arrange the rescue.
Around 6pm that evening, after the survivors had eaten a feast prepared by the natives, JFK got into the canoe for the trip to GOMU. He crouched on the floor, covered in palm leaves, to hide from Japanese airplanes flying overhead.
Two hours later the canoe pulled up to GOMU and JFK popped out from under the palm leaves and introduced himself to Evans -- who invited him into his hut for tea and talk.
By this time Kumana and Gaza had reached RENDOVA and handed the coconut to the PT commander there. Through radio contact to Evans through GUADALCANAL it was arranged that three PT boats would sail from RENDOVA to NARU with Kumana and Gaza on board to lead the way. They arranged to pick up JFK near a tiny island in the middle of Ferguson Passage opposite NARU where he'd come on board from a canoe from GOMU and guide them through the sandbars of the coral reefs from NARU to OLASANA.
After picking up JFK (who'd fired four shots into the air so they could hear and locate him) the PT boats approached NARU and started making their way toward OLASANA. Kumana and Gaza were lowered into a rubber dingy and went ahead of the PT boats -- poking poles into the water testing for sandbars to avoid being stranded high and dry when the sun came up -- as had happened to PT boats on other coral reefs throughout the Solomons. JFK gave directions from the deck of the leading PT boat and, around midnight, they were close enough to OLASANA to lower rafts to pick up and deliver the men from the island.
Kumana and Gaza made the return trip to RENDOVA with the PT 109 survivors, arriving early Sunday morning -- August 8th -- to a happy reception from the entire PT boat contingent. Later that day JFK and the other survivors had to leave for a larger base to have their injuries attended to.
But before he left RENDOVA JFK took Kumana and Gaza aside and gave them a medal and piece of ribbon from his uniform. And he told them that some day, after the war, he'd come back to Solomon Islands and visit them -- or he'd bring them to America so they could visit him.
Seventeen years later, when JFK became president in 1960, he sent for Kumana and Gaza to fly to Washington to attend his Inauguration. The other PT 109 survivors would be there too -- they'd built a replica PT 109 for the Inaugural Parade.
But when Kumana and Gaza arrived at the Solomon Island airport they were turned away from the plane by authorities who said they weren't sophisticated enough to travel to such an important event -- and someone else went in their place.
Three years later -- in 1963 -- JFK lost his life to an assassin's bullet. That shot was heard around the world -- especially in the Solomon Islands where JFK's life had been saved by Aaron Kumana and Biuku Gaza in 1943.
Now, thanks to the website created by his grandson -- RESCUER AARON KUMANA HONOURS JFK -- readers can learn the story from Aaron Kumana's own words. ~ Jackie Jura
THE STORY OF THE RESCUE OF JFK
compiled by Aaron Kumana's grandson Rellysdom Aaron Malkana
told by Aaron Kumana in Interview in 2003
We approached the Japanese wreckage boat near Naru Island. We (I and Biuku) managed to go inside to collect what we wanted. We began to have some jokes with those guns (seek and hide). Then, suddenly, we saw somebody approaching and thought he was the Japanese. We quickly got inside our canoe and away from him.
We approached Olasana Island and about to reach the beach, suddenly a man crawled out from his hiding place and stood up demanding us to come to him by waving his hand. In responce Biuku said, "No moa iu Japan" (No, you are the Japanese) but the man replied and said "No, I am the American and look at my skin" (words and body language). Suddenly a plane approached and we raised our right hand up. He noticed us and said that was their sign. We were converted when others crept out voiced out the name of Mr. John Kari.
He led us to his mates and the first thing they asked for was cigarettes. We stayed with them and that night Kennedy swam across to Olasana bringing water for the crews. We introduced each other and said he is the one who approached us at Naru Island. After a short conversation between them he told us to follow him to Naru Island (that same night). We got him inside the canoe and paddled him across. We heard someone near and it was another friend -- we cannot pull him in but have to drag him.
At Naru Island Kennedy told us how he felt for his crew mates and wanted to rescue them from the enemy. He wants us to take a message to their base at Rendova. We told him to write on the coconut husk. He gave us his pocket knife and asked us [what we would do if it falls] in the hands of the enemy? We said, "scratch it off".
It was heavy rain at that time and on our way we thought of any possible way to prevent them from starving and so we reached Wana Wana Island at Ben Kevu. There we began our journey. We were approached by the enemy and the only thing we did is to turn over our canoe and hide under it. We reached Ilangana, Munda and talked to John Kari about the events at Olasana. He sent a message to Rendova and a landing craft came and took us to Rendova and we were sent to a highly decorated person and handed him the message. He questioned us and we told them the location on the map.
In the evening we boarded a Patrol Boat escorted by two of the PT Boats. On our way we had to go far and everywhere looking for the enemy. Then we approached Naru for JFK and to Olasana for the rest of the crew mates. We returned to Rendova and Kennedy and the boys invited us for a small party and thanked us for what we did to them. Kennedy told us "If I am alive at the end of the war I promise to visit the two of you or invite the two of you to America”. Then he gave us something like a medal, a piece of decoration from his uniform, one for me and one for Biuku. That is the last time I saw him.
Highlights during events: When the crew asked for cigarettes we gave them some cigarettes (collected from the wreckage). They had no fire and Aaron rubbed sticks together and there was fire. They were excited to see such a thing; When Kennedy asked for something to write on we told him that we natives used many things. So I (Aaron) climbed a coconut palm and we took out the husk and showed him where to write. He was surprised and he held my head by carefully twisting it; We paddled across to Naru Island covering Kennedy with coconut fronds keeping him unnoticed to the enemy.
Before the rescue I and Biuku were told to keep watch for any survivors from USA. That night we heard many sounds from fighting. I and Biuku kept our heads half way in the water to keep watch for any sign. We were told to carry maps of that area to Kolobangara. Regarding some of the bloody information during their time in the war, Aaron said he won't tell the story again. He only wants to tell about the rescue.
JFK's 92-yr-old rescuer at Solomons ceremony
(Kumana saved PT-109 crew 69 years ago)
JFK Solomon rescuers honored at 2002 reunion
(visted by JFK nephew Max after PT-109 found)
Solomon Star/NatGeographic, Aug 7, 1943-2012
JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS
SOLOMON RESCUER KUMANA HONORS JFK
listen JFK PT-109 SONG
JFK’s surviving rescuer to be a special guest at today’s anniversary, by Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star, Aug 7, 2012
Former US President JF Kennedy’s surviving rescuer will be a special guest at today’s 70th anniversary to mark the Marines landing on Guadalcanal in 1942. In his first public and media appearing since 1942, Aaron (Eroni) Kumana who only spoke through an interpreter said he was overjoyed to be part of the celebration. “I am overjoyed...Kennedy is my president and I treasure US and JF Kennedy. To be part of this event makes me feel proud and glad to meet US marines again,” Mr Kumana said. The heroic Kumana could not hide his joy when he received the invitation to be part of this 70th anniversary. “I told my children, no one will ever stop me from going over to Honiara to be part of this 70th Anniversary. I want to see the Americans,” Kumana said. The ninety-two year old is still strong and can walk by himself with his walking stick. Though hearing is a little problem for him at his current age. Mr Kumana said JF Kennedy and America become his treasure and joy since then. “I could not believe saving the future president of USA,” Mr Kumana said. Meanwhile Mr Kumana’s family wish if America could ever recognise the heroics of their father with something special to honour him. However they are very proud of their father for what he did.
OSWALD HANDGUN SAME JFK .38 REVOLVER
WONDERING WAS BROTHER ON PT-109?
WILL PRINCE WILL VISIT JFK RESCUER?
Prince William & Kate to Visit Solomon Islands, Solomon Times, Dec 16, 2011
Report on the Loss of PT 109 & Subsequent Rescue of Survivors, by Byron R. White, Lieutenant (jg), USNR, MTB Flotilla ONE Intelligence Officer, 13 January 1944. See JFK JUDGE WHITE PRO-LIFE
JFK GI-JOE ROCKING MEMORIAL
HEADHUNTING SOLOMON ISLANDS MUSEUM
JFK PT-109 GI-JOE
FOR SALE SOLD
watch PT 109 MOVIE, 1963, YouTube (...One of the biggest stories was of the smallest craft and the handful of men who sailed her....)
listen PT 109 SONG, 1962, Jimmy Dean (...smoke n fire upon the sea; everywhere they looked was the enemy...)
PT 109 star Cliff Robertson dead, National Enquirer, Sep 11, 2011
Legendary Cliff Robertson who played JOHN KENNEDY in "PT 109” and won an Oscar for "Charly" has died in New York at 88. Robertson died in Stony Brook, L.I. of natural causes a day after his 88th birthday. Robertson, who also played Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in the "Spider Man" films, was a hard working vet who appeared in scores of films and TV productions. Robertson’s second marriage was to actress and heiress Dina Merrill, the daughter of financier E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the world's richest women....“PT 109” based on JFK’s WW2 heroics was the first movie to be made about a president currently in power when it hit the big screen in 1963. Many actors were considered but Kennedy himself favored Robertson, warning Cliff he didn't want someone trying to imitate his distinctive New England accent. "That was fine with me," Robertson told JFK. "I think it would have been a mistake for me to say `Hahvahd' or try to reproduce gestures. Then the audience would have been constantly aware that an actor was impersonating the president". Cliff added that “Pt 109” couldn't be Hollywood bravado but as close to real life as possible... After seeing pix of Cliff in wardrobe and hair and makeup, JFK had one complaint – Cliff’s hair was parted on the wrong side. Robertson dutifully trained his hair to part on the left....
Earthquake and tsunami hit Solomon Islands, Guardian, Jan 5, 2010
7.2-magnitude quake causes tsunami, damaging homes on Rendova and leaving third of population homeless. An earthquake and tsunami have destroyed 200 homes on one island in the Solomons leaving about one-third of the population homeless, according to a disaster management official. No injuries have been reported 30 hours after the biggest in a series of quakes churned a tsunami wave that was up to 10ft high as it hit a remote region in the nation's west yesterday. Yates says more than 1,000 people have been affected after some 200 houses were destroyed. Only 3,600 people live on Rendova, one of the Solomon Islands, some 190 miles from the capital Honiara. In April 2007, an 8.1 earthquake unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 50 people....
Gizo at centre of tsunami fears, BBC, Apr 2, 2007
It is not just Gizo that has been affected, though. Residents of nearby Simbo, Choiseul and Ranunga islands have also reported deaths and widespread destruction, and there are many other areas which could well have been affected although details are still sketchy....
Kennedy Island, Wikipedia (...Kennedy Island, colloquially known as Plum Pudding Island, is an island in the Solomon Islands that was named after John F. Kennedy. The island is remembered to be the area Lt. John F. Kennedy had aided his injured crew after his boat, the PT-109, was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in World War II. Two American sailors died in the incident. The island itself lies 15 minutes by boat from the provincial capital of the Western Province, Gizo. The island was recently acquired by Solomon Islands Resorts, and day trips can be arranged to visit the island from the Gizo Hotel. The island is approximately 2kms from Gizo Island and can be seen and reached by kayak from Fatboys Resort....)
PT 109 book author Robert Donovan in the Solomons in 1961 with Aaron Kumana and Biuku Gaza
excerpt from book PT 109, by Robert Donovan
...During the long dark hours that Kennedy had been swimming through the wastes of Ferguson Passage the Japanese had landed from two to three hundred more soldiers at Kequlavata Bay on the northern coast of Gizo Island. Some of the Gizo Scouts -- the natives who were working for Lt. Evans -- had a camp at Sepo Island, between Plum Pudding and the site of the landing, and they spotted the Japanese reinforcements. They knew that they must carry this intelligence to the coastwatcher. Early on the morning of Tuesday, August 3, therefore, Biuku Gaza and Aaron Kumana climbed into a dugout canoe and paddled down Blackett Strait on a mission as simple as any in the greatest of all wars could possibly be. Yet by a most extraordinary combination of circumstances this mission was destined to result in the saving of eleven officers and men of the United States Navy, one of whom would become the President of the United States within the lifetime of Biuku and Aaron.
Biuku and Eroni were ebony-colored Melanesians of slight statue but superb form. Eroni's face wore a stern, intense expression, while Biuku looked blithe and gentle. Both youths were around nineteen. Biuku had been born on Wana Wana Island and briefly had attendd a Methodist mission school run by the Australians. Religion affected him. Although he understood little English, he could say, "In God we trust" with more meaning than the phrase carries on most lips. Eroni was born in Lake Village on Ganongga Island and also had received instructions before the war in a Mothodist school. Like Biuku, he was loyal to the British and was willing to help Britain's allies when war burst into the Solomon Islands.
The two young natives paddled for a long time without seeing anything unusual except some flotsam off Bambanga Island. They fished out of the water a box that contained a razor, a shaving brush, a tube of shaving cream and a handwriten letter, which they could not read. They carried the letter with them. In a brief pause at Wana Wana they showed it to Banhamin Kevu, an older scout, who read and spoke Enlgish well, having been an employee of the British post office at Gizo before the Japanese invasion. Benjamin observed that the letter was signed by Raymond Albert. He had no idea who Albert was or where he had come from, and the letter meant nothing to him. From Wana Wana, Biuku and Eroni moved on by canoe to report to Lt Evans on Kilombangara....
As Biuku and Eroni were on their way to Kolombangara Kennedy woke up in broad daylight on Leorava. He felt cold and utterly ragged and still had a mile and three-quarters to swim to return to his men. He tried the battle lantern but it did not light, so he tossed it aside. His shoes having been discarded the night before, he waded back into the water in his skivvies with only his lifebelt and revolver. The coral cut his bare feet as he started back up the reef....
SOLOMON RESCUER KUMANA HONORS JFK
JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS
SEARCHING 4 JFK 109 CREW
JFK BET PT-109 FASTEST
JFK PT-109 GUNNER HARRIS
JFK PT-59 FRIEND FACTO
JFK FRIEND FAY FONDLY REMEMBERS
JFK PT-109 SONG
JFK PLUM PUDDING SWIM
JFK PT-109 WHO'S WHO
JFK TO NAVAL CADETS
JFK SAVED THE MARINES
JFK'S PT-59 CREW
JFK PROOF IN PUDDING
PT 109 HIT BY TSUNAMI
JFK'S PT 109 CREW
JFK WIT & ORWELL SONG
Coconut shell on President Kennedy's desk, White House, Oval Office, , August 9, 1962. Message carved on the coconut shell reads "NAURO ISL…COMMANDER…NATIVE KNOWS POSIT…HE CAN PILOT…11 ALIVE…NEED SMALL BOAT…KENNEDY"
JFK'S BOAT & COCONUT
JFK SWAM TO NARU NOT NAURU
JFK'S BROTHER FLEW DRONE
JFK'S LETTER TO SOLOMONS
JFK PT-109 MOVIE
THE STORY OF PT-109
JFK NEPHEW THANKS NATIVES
SEARCHING FOR JFK'S...BOAT
JFK TRUTH & UNTRUTH and JFK ASSASSINATION PUZZLE PIECES
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