Reader JFK Solomon Kumana Grandson

JFK Rescuer Kumana



To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie Jura,

Greetings from Solomon Island.

I am the grandson of Aaron Kumana, one of the 2 who rescued JFK.

I am interested in the research you did, especially about my grandfather.

If interested to know more about my grandfather, I will hopefully give you more about him today.

I managed to do the Aaron Kumana Website for my grandfather.

Rellysdom Aaron Malakana, August 2011

Greetings Aaron Malakana,

It was exciting receiving email from Solomon Islands -- and especially from the grandson of Aaron Kumana -- a person dear in the hearts of millions for rescuing JFK.

Thanks for sending the link to the website you created for your grandfather -- excerpts and photos of which I'm posting here to share with ORWELL TODAY readers.

I looked on a map for Rannonga Island after learning it's where Aaron Kumana was born 90 years ago, and where he lives today as patriarch for his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and neighbours in Kongu Village.

Melanasia Islands Solomon Islands

Since receiving your email [in August 2011] I wrote an article giving an overview of the PT 109 story so readers will understand the godcidental role your grandfather played in rescuing JFK. See JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS

I noticed in the news recently that two years ago Aaron Kumana donated Bakia shell money to be placed on JFK's grave:

JFK Grave Shell

Solomon Islander's tribute placed on JFK's grave
Boston Globe, Feb 19, 2009

In a small, private ceremony in November at Arlington Cemetery, members of the Kennedy family gathered to witness an unusual item being placed on President John F. Kennedy's grave: a simple bracelet-sized ring made of cream-colored shell from an old man who lives on a remote island halfway across the world. Why the fuss? Because without Eroni Kumana, the man who asked that the item be placed on the grave, Jack Kennedy, the young PT boat captain, might have not made it back from World War II. Kumana was one of two Solomon Islanders who helped to rescue Kennedy and his crew after his boat, PT-109, had been rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. When the destroyer smashed into the small boat in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 1943, two crewmen died. Kennedy, then 26, led his remaining 10 crew members in a weeklong fight for survival, swimming to a series of tiny deserted islands. Kumana and another native, Biuku Gasa, found the men, who had been surviving on coconuts. They took a message from Kennedy written on a coconut husk (an item currently on display in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum) to the nearest Allied base 35 miles away. A rescue was launched....

Please give kindest regards to your grandfather and best wishes for the projects he is planning. I hope the Kindergarten school extension, the rehabilitated Shrine to JFK, the rehabilitated JFK Home-Stay Resort and the Furniture-Making trade school get the financial donations they need and become a reality soon.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

August 19, 2009

Kumana JFK Shrine Kumana JFK Photo

Beginning this millennium 2000, Aaron Kumana and his grandson erected a 2 meters high Shrine, this to remember his rescue of John F Kennedy during World War ll. Shell money was attached to this shrine and he said:

"At this time I will place this Bakia (shell money)
to symbolize my friendship between the JFK family;
the shell money will tell of the rescue of
the 35th President of the United States of America.
The Bakia will also symbolize
John F Kennedy's leadership since captaining the PT 109
and his position as President of the United States of America."

In all of his time with his grandchildren Aaron Kumana always loves to tell the story of the rescue of someone important. He erected the shrine for his grandchildren, as well as for the next generation to come.

April 14, 2010

Kongu Harbour Ship Kumana Beach Kids Kongu Kids Beach
~ Aaron and grandchildren on the beach at his home ~

Kumana Canoe Kongu
~ Aaron's family in a canoe for a trip to Gizo ~

Kumana Son JFK
~ Aaron's youngest son, John F Kennedy, on a trip to Gizo ~

October 29, 2008

Aaron Kumana and Biuku Gaza were two Islanders who rescued John F Kennedy and his crew mates during World War II. A request from the White House, Washington was made for the two rescuers and immediately preparations were made by our provincial Government. The rescuers were led to Munda Terminal and then changes came in immediately. They were sent away from the steps of the air craft because of their lack in speaking English.

However, Kumana and Biuku were frequently visited by tourists and students from overseas. In the year before last, in 2006, Biuku was pronounced dead by his bedside leaving only Aaron Kumana who was frequently visited.

Before the Ethnic Tension here in our country, Aaron and his grandson Aaron Malakana, erected an eco-Resort, known as JF Kennedy Resort, this is to accommodate visitors from over seas. However, during the Tension, the project came to a stop and during the 8.1 Earthquake/Tsunami the project collapsed leaving nothing to continue. The project had been ignored [for five years] and many visitors promised help for him but due to lack of communication, these promises were ignored.

A National Geographic team from the USA arrived in 2003 with Senator Robert Kennedy’s son (President Kennedy’s nephew) for the purpose to explore the wreckage of the PT 109 Patrol Boat and to make a visit to we two rescuers. Promises have been made and both rescuers were communicated with through Danny Kennedy [no relation to the JFK family]. Giza and Kumana were privileged to have new living houses erected which were financed by either National Geographic or the Kennedy Family. Especially for Aaron’s family, this year he received a 30-horse-powered engine from somebody.

Now that we have managed to have our own website we will communicate directly by email to our visitors who wish to help or visit our grandfather, Aaron Kumana.

Aaron Kumana is First Elder in the big community, tribe and the church. He is well respected by the community people. Not only that, he is identified as the source of improving the community. These beliefs came about during his requests to visitors and the promises he made for helping his community. He cannot give up and will keep trying to fulfill these promises if there is a possibility of help from his USA friends. He built his house with donations from his friends but he cannot complete it because of his strong belief in associating himself to the standards the community has.

More than 150 visitors from all over the world, especially the Americans, have visited him till this year 2009. As usual he asked for support from the visitors to help his community. He continues to seek support so as to fulfill his promises. However, his eldest daughter Violet Kaurae began a kindergarten for his 50 grand children. The idea was brought up because that has been the first priority since the 90s.

Proposal to be submitted to the Kennedy Family in America
February 11th, 2010

These recommendations are mainly to be proposed to the Kennedy Family for the purpose of fulfilling Kumana's promises for his community, but also to any people or tourists who wish to contribute in other ways towards the recommended projects.

Total funds requested: $51,819.00 Solomon dollars (about US $8,000)

Kumana School KumanaSchoolKids

St Ann’s Kindergartens is the only Kindergarten that serves 3 big nearby villages. Last year registration was up to 50 children and this year, 2010, there will likely be 120 children involved but due to the small poor building only 50 are allowed this year. The project is to make a 2-story extension to accommodate classroom facilities for the Kindergarten; serve as a library and for administration use; to store playing kits for the children etc. The Kindergarten will be under the rehabilitation program of the Catholic Diocese of Gizo. Funds were allocated for this project for a low cost (1 story) building. Recommendation for the elevation to (2 Story) will be sent to the Kennedy Family in America for consideration....

Total funds requested: $66,190.00 Solomon dollars

Before the Ethnic Tension here in our country, Aaron and his grandson Aaron Malakana, erected an eco-Resort, known as JF Kennedy Resort, this is to accommodate visitors from over seas. However, during the Tension, the project came to a stop and during the 8.1 Earthquake/Tsunami the project collapsed leaving nothing to continue. The project had been ignored [for five years] and many visitors promised help for him but due to lack of communication, these promises were ignored.

One of the intentions of Aaron Kumana, mainly in remembrance on his friend the late president Kennedy, was his interest in recalling back to the events that took place during WWII, for the benefit of the upcoming generation. Aaron Kumana’s main idea is to have a safe environment for his friends who may visit him and so we may have a longtime friendship with the people of USA. The Project will provide the following services: entertaining our guests – our culture and tradition of our island and in turn we will learn about the USA; working opportunities for family members; provide accommodations for local visitors; have an opportunity to display and sell some of our custom items, like shell money and other crafts; an income generating project. A site will be provided for the location of the project. Community will be involved in landscaping/clearance...

Total funds requested: $16,860.00 Solomon dollars

At one time (late 1990) Aaron Kumana refrained from telling the story to some of the guests from America, but he was converted by a local American Business man into the importance of telling about the visitation. During 1998, Aaron Kumana and his grandson erected a shrine for honoring his friend. They raised money by selling crops at Gizo market and earned much money for the shrine. The shrine is about 2-and-a-half meters high and is attached with shell money which is tradition for honoring someone special in the community. Aaron Kumana has a strong belief that after him there will be no one to tell the story of the rescue of someone special in the world to his future generations and there will be no meaning for them. For that purpose he erected the shrine. The shrine will tell the story, for the people from our Island, of the rescue of JFK during WWII. Since we have students from primary/secondary schools visiting the site, it is a reminder and way of learning an important part of historical events that took place here in our country. The shrine will be relocated to the Home Stay accommodation for the purpose of everyone to see it. It will have its own site where it may have enough space for dozens of people (guests, school children, community etc). It is recommended to be bigger than the existing one. We will contact someone expert to construct the shrine.... Funds for this project will propose to the Kennedy family USA.

Since the visitation of the National Geographic team from Washington USA, Mr. Aaron Kumana has been expecting help from them. But, however, the monument has been left untouched and he cannot afford to carry on the project. But he never gives up. During the visitation of the tourist boat this Easter 2009 a similar item, Bakia (shell money) was placed outside for Aaron Kumana's way of thanking the Americans for their honor-ship towards him, but he cannot have that privilege. Now he has a lot of dreams to fulfill for his community.

Total funds requested: $21,928.00 Solomon dollars

One of Aaron Kumana’s ideas is for one of his sons to use his skill to produce furniture for the above projects. Kumana's son, Mr Gram Dick was more than 20 years in Joinery. Returning home, he is committed to helping our community by producing furniture in schools, clinics, churches etc; to help train youths how to make furniture and to involve them; provide cheaper furniture than the expensive furniture in our area; income generating project; many will learn skills from the project; it will provide better furniture at better costs for the community that families may afford. The resources needed are electric tools - drills/plane/hand mill/Generator/hand saw/tape measures/chisel/grabs/square sets...

5. COMMUNICATION is another project which is a priority for the community but we have yet to make our proposal.

July 28, 2009


During Easter this year 2009 a tourist boat arrived where Aaron Kumana lives. 12 tourists from USA visited him and gave some clothes and kindergarten kits for his grandchildren. He is now in his 80s, his wife Anne Laela is 70, they have 9 children and about 70 grand children.

May 24, 2010

Aaron Kumana would like to thank the those who contributed in one way or the other and responded in helping him.

Thanks to Honorable Danny Kennedy for his help in my recognition. He is like a son to me, helping out in many ways. If I am being ignored and and have no one to inform me what’s going on, or translate for me, always Danny Kennedy is there. Danny Kennedy also helps out in other ways to help my family and community. His contribution towards fundraising to help build the school & church was highly appreciated to me.

I need someone to inform me what’s happening because I need to give my thanks to the tourists.

Also thanks to my grandson (Rellysdom Aaron Malakana) who gives some of his support helping me with my Five Recommendations and the website.

Thanks to someone unidentified to me, the one on the boat (sailing ship) who gave a financial donation to assist my sanitation project and to others who contributed. I need to be informed and to know the names of who is helping out.

Thanks to the crew of the USS PELELIU PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2007 MISSION who gave a small donation to help rehabilitate Kumana's home after the 2007 tsunami.

Thanks to the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter who presented me with the flag.

Thanks to the people who assissted in building my house. Who exactly was helping me finance my house? What I heard was U S 5,000 (five thousand dollars) donated by National Geographic. (The house was designed by one of my son's). But later I realized that it was help from the Kennedy family. I appreciate the help provided by the family of Kennedy.

Thanks to Max Kennedy. I saw him during his visitation in Gizo. It was like seeing my friend JFK. I thanked him for his support. I believe he is helping out in other ways. I have no contact of him now but I feel his heart is still in me.

compiled by Rellysdom Aaron Malkana
told by Aaron Kumana in Interview in 2003

Kumana JFK Shirt Kumana JFK Head

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.

Aaron Kumana's Appreciation, May 24, 2010

Aaron Kumana's Family Pictures, April 14, 2010

Aaron Kumana's 5 Recommended Projects, February 11, 2010

Aaron Kumana the Tiredless Elder (erected shrine to JFK), August 19, 2009

Visitation, USA Boat, July 28, 2009

The Story of the Rescue of JFK, April 14, 2009

Over-viewing Aaron Kumana, October 29, 2008


Reader Bob is very interested in the Solomon Islands projects of Mr Kumana



Last Surviving Member Of Crew That Rescued JFK Dies At 87, Huffington Post, Nov 28, 2013
The last surviving member of the crew that rescued John F Kennedy from an island in the Pacific Ocean during World War II has died. Guy Gardo said Jack Gardo died in his sleep at his Greenville, South Carolina home Wednesday. He was 87. The younger Gardo said his father had suffered from dementia for the past six years. Jack Gardo's PT-157 was sent to rescue the survivors of PT-109 after the patrol torpedo boat was rammed in the middle of the night by a Japanese destroyer. Gardo said he and his crew learned where the survivors were after a native islander arrived with a coconut on which Kennedy had scrawled their location. Among the survivors are Jack Gardo's wife, Guynell; a daughter; and two great-grandchildren. A funeral is scheduled for Monday.

Connecticut Man Aided JFK in PT-109 Incident 70 Years Ago, by Corey Fyke, Aug 19, 2013
Hall of Fame swim coach Jim Farrar taught survival swimming to John F. Kennedy before the future president shipped out to war...Those survival skills undoubtedly came in handy on the moonless evening at 2:30 a.m. near the Solomon Islands when the Japanese destroyer Amigiri cut Kennedy's PT boat in half. Responding to the challenge posed by the incident, Lt. Kennedy directed the 10 other survivors on how to save themselves. He towed one of his crewmen, badly burned Patrick McMahon, to safety by clenching a strap in his teeth while he swam. He proceeded to swim with them for 4 miles to Plum Pudding Island, where they rested and found sustenance. Kennedy had to swim again to two other islands. Eventually, he contacted two native islanders who transported an emergency message carved on a coconut. That message led to their rescue. JFK kept that coconut on his desk in the Oval Office throughout his presidency. The story of PT-109 and Kennedy's truly heroic and courageous actions in saving his crew has been largely forgotten over the years, as the president's controversial assassination in 1963 and his alleged affairs with other women have dominated the publicity on his life in recent years. It should not be forgotten, however, that Lt. Kennedy showed great courage and judgment in guiding his crew to safety under very dangerous circumstances. Let's not forget that JFK also got an assist from a future Hall of Fame swim coach from Connecticut named Jim Farrar.

(canoe paddled JFK coconut thru enemy waters)
RescuerKumanaFlagUSA JFKCoconutDeskWH
(played role in making American president JFK)
Email/YouTube, Jun 2, 2013

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
PT 109 Hit JFKSwimGear JFK Coconut JFK Rescuer Kumana PT109jfkParade
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.

PT 109: JFK in World War II & JFK's Solomon Rescuers Honored at 2002 Reunion (visited by JFK nephew Max after PT-109 was found), National Geographic


Prince William & Kate to Visit Solomon Islands, Solomon Times, Dec 16, 2011

Move PT109 Flyer PT109MoveStarCliff 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....

Water Tank Project on Ranogga Island, Australian High Commission, Feb 15, 2011
(...Australian High Commission Third Secretary, Ms Rachel Small, visited Ranogga Island recently and opened the Buri Village, Tavaneka South Community water tank project. Buri village is the one of the largest villages on Ranogga Island with a population of over 1,000 people. The village was affected by the 2007 tsunami and the water tank project has provided clean drinking water to the community and assistance to women and children in the village who previously had to walk long distances to access clean water. In opening the project, Ms Small emphasised the Australian Government’s commitment to working with grassroots communities to improve the lives of Solomon Islanders. The project was funded under the Direct Aid Program (DAP), a small grants program which supports projects spread across all provinces, including water tanks, school furniture, health clinics, and small income generating projects such as sewing machines, boat-building and copra. DAP will provide around 1 million dollars to communities across Solomon Islands this year. The High Commission welcomes DAP applications from communities that need a helping hand to achieve their goals.

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....

JFK Grave Shell Solomon Islander's tribute placed on JFK's grave, Boston Globe, Feb 19, 2009
In a small, private ceremony in November at Arlington Cemetery, members of the Kennedy family gathered to witness an unusual item being placed on President John F. Kennedy's grave: a simple bracelet-sized ring made of cream-colored shell from an old man who lives on a remote island halfway across the world. Why the fuss? Because without Eroni Kumana, the man who asked that the item be placed on the grave, Jack Kennedy, the young PT boat captain, might have not made it back from World War II. Kumana was one of two Solomon Islanders who helped to rescue Kennedy and his crew after his boat, PT-109, had been rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. When the destroyer smashed into the small boat in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 1943, two crewmen died. Kennedy, then 26, led his remaining 10 crew members in a weeklong fight for survival, swimming to a series of tiny deserted islands. Kumana and another native, Biuku Gasa, found the men, who had been surviving on coconuts. They took a message from Kennedy written on a coconut husk (an item currently on display in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum) to the nearest Allied base 35 miles away. A rescue was launched.

Fast-forward more than 60 years. Mark Roche, an investment banker whose hobby is World War II history, traveled to the Solomon Islands in March 2008 and, on a whim, looked up Kumana, now 83, who lives on Ranongga Island. After they talked for about an hour, Roche said, he asked if Kumana would like him to place some of the flowers from his yard on Kennedy's grave. At that point, Roche said in an email to the Kennedy Library and Museum, Kumana went into his hut and pulled out the ring of shell, which was a piece of custom money or shell money. The money, carved from a fossilized giant clam shell
, could once be used to pay for a bride, buy land, and other purposes in the Solomon Islands. Kumana's son explained that another traditional use of the custom money was to lay it on the chief's grave. Roche, 52, of Houston agreed to lay it on Kennedy's grave for Kumana. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, he was able to get in touch with the Kennedy family and the ceremony was arranged. The Kennedys treated him with "incredible graciousness," he said. "I was raised in a Nixon household. Honestly, we were raised, sort of, 'We don't like Kennedys.' ... I take offense against anybody who says a bad thing about a Kennedy now." The ceremony took place November 1, 2008. Those attending included President Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver; his nephew, Tim Shriver; and his niece, Sydney Lawford McKelvy. The item is now part of the museum's collection and will one day be displayed next to the coconut husk bearing Kennedy's message, museum officials said.

Eroni Kumana gets his flag, by George Herming, AP, Sep 2, 2007
Honiara, Solomon Islands - Six decades after Eroni Kumana helped rescue young naval officer John F. Kennedy from Japanese capture in 1943, the US Navy officially recognized its debt to the Solomon Islander, who for years was believed dead. Kumana, from the western Solomon island of Rannonga, and fellow military scout Biuku Gasa found the crew of PT-109, including its skipper, Lieutenant Kennedy, the future president. The boat had sunk after being cut in two by a Japanese destroyer. Two members of the crew were killed in the collision in August 1943 off Gizo, the main town of western Solomon Islands. An injured Kennedy and other survivors swam to a nearby island, where Kumana and Gasa found them. The pair rowed 35 miles through enemy-held waters to summon a rescue boat.

Gasa was recognized in 2002 with a $15,000 gift for a new house and a bust of Kennedy. He received the gifts when a National Geographic-led expedition went to Gizo to try to find the wreck of PT-109. But according to a local businessman Danny Kennedy, Kumana was believed to be dead. Three years later, Kumana, who is 85 and lives in Gizo, was given some payment and a bust of his own, but he never got his hero's recognition - until two weeks ago. Danny Kennedy, no relation to John Kennedy, said last week that he contacted the captain of the USS Peleliu, which is in the Solomons on a humanitarian and diplomatic mission, to tell the Americans about Kumana. The Peleliu's commanding officer, Captain Ed Rhoades, presented Kumana with gifts, including an American flag.

Kumana recalled that John Kennedy promised he would come back to Solomon Islands after the war. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. "I mourned for a whole week upon hearing of my friend's death," Kumana said. "I can now be at peace since through my friend's legacy, people have come to know me, my people, and my country, the Solomon Islands."

Aaron Kumana, man who rescued JFK, finally honoured, NewZealandStuff, Aug 31, 2007
An elderly Solomon Islander who changed world history 64 years ago has this week finally been honoured. Deaf and now nearly blind, Eroni "Aaron" Kumana came across a shipwrecked US Navy crew far behind Japanese lines and paddled 60 kilometres to get them help, carrying a message carved into a coconut by a lieutenant. That officer, 18 years later, became President John F Kennedy.

Japan occupied the Solomons, leading to the bloody Guadalcanal. During that battle the Japanese "Tokyo Express" convoys used to run down the New Georgia Sound, called "the Slot" by the Americans. On August 2, 1943 a young Kennedy was skipper of PT109, a 24 metre long high-speed patrol boat operating against the Express off Gizo Island in the Blackett Strait. With no radar PT109 idled in the darkness and did not see until the last moment the Japanese destroyer Amagari, which rammed it, sinking it, killing two of the 12 aboard. PT 109's bow stayed afloat and they clung to it until deciding to swim to Plum Pudding Island, six kilometres away. Kennedy towed one of the most wounded men into shore. While on the island Kennedy swam to nearby Olasana and Naru islands in a bid to find help. At the time the area was behind enemy lines and Kennedy also swam out into Blackett Strait hoping to attract passing Allied warships. For six days they lived off coconuts. Two local men, Biuku Gasa and Aaron Kumana, found them. Kennedy carved a message onto coconut husk: "nauro isl native knows posit he can pilot 11 alive need small boat". The two men took it to an Australian, Reg Evans, who was operating behind enemy lines and he organised a rescue. The coconut husk was later returned to Kennedy and sat on his White House desk. Six days after the loss of his boat, Kennedy and his crew were rescued by US Marines. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for "extremely heroic conduct". "Unmindful of personal danger, Lieutenant Kennedy unhesitatingly braved the difficulties and hazards of darkness to direct rescue operations, swimming many hours to secure aid and food after he had succeeded in getting his crew ashore," the citation read. "His outstanding courage, endurance and leadership contributed to the saving of several lives."

In 1961, Mr Kumana and Mr Gasa were invited to President Kennedy's inauguration. But in Honiara, the Solomons' capital, local officials decided that they were too uncouth for the honour and sent some of their own number instead. Three years later, Kennedy was assassinated. "I mourned for a whole week upon hearing of my friend's death," Mr Kumana said.

In April 2007, Mr Kumana's his house was destroyed by an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale - the tsunami caused by the tremor killed 50 people. This week, August 2007, the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu visited the Solomons and US Navy Secretary Donald Winter flew in to present gifts including an American flag to Kumana. "I think it's a remarkable circumstance," said Winter. "He changed our history...and I'm very thankful to him for doing it." The crew of USS Pelleliu donated $1,500 to put a roof on Mr Kumana's new home.

Earthquake Lifts Ranogga Island Upward, Exposing Coral Reefs, Digital Journal, Apr 7, 2007
The future of fishing villages on Ranogga Island is uncertain. A massive quake shifted Ranogga Island island and left coral reefs exposed and dying, killing off the island's main food source. The 8.0 earthquake that hit the Solomon Islands has lifted the island of Ranogga, so much in fact that coral reefs are now exposed. The shoreline of the remote island has been pushed out by 70 meters as a result of the quake. The reefs, which were popular with scuba divers from around the world, are now exposed and dying. Eye witnesses say that the reefs were bleaching in the sun and covered with dead fish, eels, clams and other marine life. At least 34 people died after the massive earthquake caused a tsunami, and more than 5,000 rare now homeless. Red cross and other organizations have not yet reached Ranonogga, but experts say that the geography of the island has been permanently damaged. "Water go back and not come back again," one resident said. The fishing committees on the islands will suffer immensely as a result of the quake and the loss of the coral reefs, as fish are a major source of food for the villagers. Now they will need to travel to find food if the fish don't return to their shores. Experts say the entire food chain is now disrupted...
Read more:

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....

JFK's Island Rescuers Honored at Emotional Reunion, National Geographic, Nov 20, 2002
Last May 26, 2002 an elderly Solomon Islander named Eroni Kumana sat beneath a leaf roof in the tiny, unpaved Solomons town of Gizo when a tall American approached. He introduced himself as Max Kennedy, 37, nephew of John F. Kennedy. At the sound of the Kennedy name, Kumana put his face to Kennedy's chest and collapsed in sobs that seemed to have been decades in the making... Cradling Kumana, Kennedy asked him how old he is. "Eighty," Kumana said. "Or 90." It had been some 60 years since he and Gasa had joined the Allies as canoe-borne scouts....

The arrival last spring of Max Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, seemed to provide comfort and even catharsis for both Kumana and Gasa, now proud great-grandfathers. As they spoke with Max in Gasa's isolated island village, the old scouts were overcome again and again by the memory of Kennedy, by the thought that their efforts have not been forgotten, and by the joy of being reunited for the first time since the war.

The men now live some seven hours apart by canoe. "I'm really happy to see him," Gasa said of Kumana. "I really cried." Kumana, wearing dog tags given to him by U.S. marines in World War II, said, "Biuku, during the war, he was a comrade, and it will always be like that, so meeting him again reminds us of good times." Remembering those good times, Kumana and Gasa fell easily into old habits, kidding each other and singing their old scout song, a rough rendition of the wartime hit "Whatcha Know Joe?" Both Kumana and Gasa live much as their ancestors did, without electricity, in leaf-roof huts, with dugouts as their main form of transportation.

During the men's reunion last spring, Max Kennedy, representing his family, together with the National Geographic Society, presented Kumana and Gasa each with a new house and motorboat. "I'm happy," an emotional Gasa said after Max announced the gifts. Asked what type of house he'd like, Gasa replied, "I'll leave that to the carpenters." The scouts' happiness was nearly matched by Max's. "The most amazing thing on the trip for me — and something I'll be grateful for the rest of my life — was meeting Biuku and Eroni."

Gasa had a gift of his own for Max. The rescuer had his nephew and grandson hand-carve a dugout like the one he and Kumana paddled during the war, "so people will hear about the late President Kennedy and remember the story of what happened here. ... I made it for the memorial of J.F. Kennedy. ..." Kumana has his own tributes to the late President. In addition to naming his son John F. Kennedy, Kumana erected a stone monolith, around six feet (two meters) tall, on a hilltop near his home. Emblazoned with a portrait photograph of the President and withered magazine clippings, the memorial is Kumana's way of keeping "Chief" Kennedy alive. "The chiefship of Kennedy will remain here, even after I die—strong as ever, as hard as this rock," Kumana says. "I always am thinking of Kennedy."

PT109BookCover PT 109: JOHN F KENNEDY IN WORLD WAR II, by Robert J Donovan, published 1962

BiukuGaza/AaronKumana PT109 Pg174 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....

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....)

Ranonga Island, Wikipedia (...Ranongga was sighted in 1787 by sailors Read and Dale. On August 18, 1959, a seismic sea wave was generated off the west coast of Ranongga Island, at 08 hr 05 min. Soon after, large waves were observed soon in Vori, on the northern coast of the island. The sea receded by 15m and then returned to its original position. Ranongga is a 28 km (17 mi) long, narrow island, located 8 km (5 mi) north-east of Simbo Island and south-west of Gizo, the capital of Western Province. The highest point is Mt. Kela (869m)

2007 Solomon Islands earthquake and tsunami: In April 2007, an earthquake rocked Ranongga Island, along with many parts of the Solomon Islands. Land thrust from the quake extended out the shoreline of Ranongga Island by up to 70 meters (230 ft) according to local residents. This has left many once pristine coral reefs exposed on the newly formed beaches. Most of the villages are situated on the eastern side of Ranongga Island. The Ghanongga language is spoken by about 2,500 people on the Ranongga Island.

Ranongga Island, Solomon Islands, Western Province (...Ranongga is a 28 km long, narrow island, located 8km NE of Simbo Island and SW of Gizo. The island's interior is rugged and food gardens are high on the hillsides. The summit is Mt Kela (869 m). There is a narrow footpath along the eastern side of the mountain, and across the centre of the island from east to west. Most of the villages are located on the sheltered eastern side of the island. A thermal area 500-meters south of Mondo village is used by locals to cook food. The island covers an area of 145 sq km, and had a population of 5,059 at last census in 1999. The island was sighted in 1787 by sailors Read and Dale. Ranongga Island was raised by 3m by the 8.1 magnitude earthquake which hit on 2nd April 2007.

General Strategy of the Campaign in the Solomon Islands, Olive Drab
...Air reconnaissance and intelligence showed the Japanese were building an airfield on Guadalcanal, located at the southeast end of the Solomon Islands Chain. To prevent the Japanese from completing this airfield, which would allow them to dominate the seas in the area and threaten Australia, an Allied offensive began on 7 August 1942, when the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal and nearby islands in the southern Solomons, Phase I of the campaign. After Guadalcanal, Phase II of the Solomons campaign began in late June 1943, in the Central Solomons. There Admiral Halsey's South Pacific forces, operating under MacArthur's strategic direction, landed on New Georgia, about 200 miles northwest of Guadalcanal, with the main objective seizure of the Munda airfield and driving the Japanese from New Georgia and the surrounding islands. The invasion of New Georgia in June 1943 signaled a new phase of the war, the beginning of a sustained American strategic offensive. The capture of Munda airfield on 5 August still left many Japanese on New Georgia, as well as on the surrounding islands of Arundel, Baanga, Gizo, Kolombangara, and Vella Lavella. These were taken or neutralized by the end of September....




Reader Bob is very interested in the Solomon Islands projects of Mr Kumana





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Jackie Jura
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