JFK SAY KEVU SPOKE BRIT ENGLISH
To Orwell Today,
It seems a few writers and historians have re-written and incorrectly the rescue of JFK. They said Biuku and Kumana paddled JFK out to safety but it was actually not. They never paddled JFK inside their dug out canoe. They only took the message written on the coconut husk to Ben Kevu and then to Evans and they paddled all the way to Rendova.
I also have not seen in your webpage where Ben Kevu introduced himself to JFK: "Hi or hello, my name is Ben". It was here that JFK described Ben Kevu as someone who spoke British English well.
Anonymous, July 28, 2022
Good to hear from you again since our original conversation four years ago. See SOLOMON NATIVES HID JFK IN CANOE
The story of Biuku and Kumana rescuing JFK is legend but not everyone knows the finer details about the roles of the other native rescuers. All of them served as scouts for Australian Coastwatcher Evans. Biuku and Kumana, when in their dug-out canoe, were on the look-out for survivors of a PT boat Evans had seen explode in flames in Blackett Strait. It's still a miracle they found the survivors and gave JFK the idea of writing a message on the coconut -- which JFK asked them to deliver to the PT base at Rendova.
After paddling away from JFK on Naru island, Biuku and Kumana made the wise decision to take the coconut to Kevu first -- up the chain of command -- and Kevu then delivered the news to Evans on his new base on Gomu. Then Biuku and Kumana resumed their journey to Rendova, but I don't know if they still had the coconut, but assume they did. By that time the PT base on Rendova had been notified by Evans that the crew of PT-109 had been found alive. Evans then made arrangements with Kevu and six other paddlers to take a canoe full of supplies to the survivors on Olasana and to bring back their leader -- JFK -- so plans could be made with Rendova for PT boats to pick up the survivors.
It's a well-known anecdote that JFK joked about the formality of the British and parodied the accent while reading aloud the ON HIS MAJESTY'S SERVICE letter Evan's sent inviting JFK to his headquarters on Gomu. JFK was no doubt impresssed, too, with Kevu's well-educated command of English -- spoken with a British accent.
You're right to emphasize that JFK was never in the canoe with Biuku and Kumana. He was only in Kevu's canoe hidden under palm leaves so planes with red circle insignia wouldn't see him. JFK would also have heard Kevu's voice singing hymns as they paddled across the open expanse of Ferguson Passage from Olasana to Gomu.
Then nineteen years later, in 1962, JFK met Kevu again -- in the Oval Office -- and was so impressed he invited the Australian Prime Minister -- who'd been kept waiting while JFK talked to Kevu -- to meet him -- and they both praised Kevu highly for his service to USA and Australia. See RESCUER KEVU IN JFK OVAL OFFICE
Big events are happening in Solomon Islands this week with USA Ambassador Caroline Kennedy officiating there at memorial celebrations on the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal and the 79th anniversary of her father's survival and rescue. I hope arrangements are being made for Caroline to meet some of the descendents of his rescuers -- perhaps including you.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, August 3, 2022
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