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To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie Jura,

Pray all is well. I am a Naval military spouse (30+ years) who loves to attend estate sales. Recently purchased a PT-109 old black and white movie poster signed by Mr. Maguire. And while during my research, I stumbled across your very informative web page.

The ironic part of my discovery was I had just seen the movie a couple of weeks back on TCM channel prior to purchasing the poster, and truly enjoyed the movie. Not really knowing who was actually being depicted in the movie. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine running across the signed poster at a sale. Am sending a photo of the picture in an attachment to this email.

Take care and God bless,
N K Shealey

Greetings N K Shealey,

It was Godcidental your coming across that PT 109 movie poster so soon after having seen the movie on TV for the first time. Otherwise you might not have appreciated its value -- not monetary, of course, but sentimentally. And having it signed by one of JFK's real-life PT 109 crew members -- John Maguire (not the actor playing his part) -- makes it even more special.


Maguire's bio from the MARITIME QUEST website says: RM 2/C PT 109 John E Maguire (Radio Man Second Class) from Dobbs Ferry, New York was twenty six when he joined the PT-109 on May 5, 1943. He was standing next to Kennedy when the Amagiri rammed the PT-109. He later served with Kennedy on the PT-59. After Kennedy was elected President he appointed Maguire to the post of US Marshal Southern Florida District.


PT 109 Crew 1  PT 109 Crew 2  PT 109 Crew 3  PT 109 Crew 4

PT Crew Names

In your movie poster photo I was wondering which actor was Maguire and went searching on my website for photos of the crew to see if they were look-alikes as are Ty Hardin playing Leonard Thom and Cliff Robertson playing JFK (the only two I knew). Then it dawned on me that the actors were probably staging a re-enactment of the famous photo of JFK and crew posing aboard the PT 109 and would be in the same positions. After comparing the poster photo to the original photo I concluded that the actor playing Maguire was next to the actor playing JFK. See JFK PT 109 CREW and WHO'S WHO ON PT 109 and JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS


Curious to know the names of all the PT 109 actors I googled and came across the same photo as the one on your poster -- and it was labelled with all the names. And yes, Maguire (played by John Ward) is sitting next to JFK. The movie was made in the Florida Keys in June and July 1962 and opened in theatres in January 1963 almost exactly 20 years after PT 109 sank in August 1943. See JFK PT 109 MOVIE

Actually, as did you, I recently watched PT 109 on Turner Classic Movies and was having an email discussion about it with the great-nephew of one of JFK's crew members -- Bucky Harris who had written a condolence letter to Jackie -- and he was wondering where the original was located:

JFK PT 109 HARRIS LETTER TO JACKIE (...As mentioned at the time, I ordered the book LETTERS TO JACKE on-line and have been waiting for it to arrive so I could see if Bucky's letter was included.... That was about three weeks ago so I was anxiously expecting it any day when, the other night -- as I was channel-surfing for something to watch on TV -- up popped the movie PT-109 on Turner Classics. It was another one of those amazing coincidences -- or "godcidents" -- that the movie be playing now, especially when I'd been thinking so much about JFK and Bucky Harris. As I watched PT-109 this time I focused on scenes with your great-uncle and was suprised at how big a role he played -- he was everywhere in the movie... The book arrived the next day, as I suspected it would, my having received those powerful vibes from JFK. I immediately flipped to the index at the back to see if the letter from Harris, Charles A, was there and, sure enough, it was....)

Now I'd like to watch PT 109 again, this time focusing on scenes with Maguire, but I don't own a copy anymore. I used to have it on VHS but my latest machine only plays DVDs. So I ordered the DVD on-line and will re-watch when it arrives.

The PT 109 movie was based on the PT 109 book by Robert Donovan that came out in 1961. JFK, the crew and everyone else involved in the PT 109 mission were interviewed by the author to ensure accuracy -- and the same went for the movie.

PT109bookCover PT109bookCoverBack

PT109bookForward PT109bookIndex Pg150MaguireRescue

Maguire, as can be seen in the index, was a big part of the PT-109 story and that is reflected in the book and the movie. After PT 109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer the bow was separated from the stern, and by the time JFK got on his feet after being thrown against the back of the cockpit, there were only three other crew with him -- Maguire (who was beside him in the cockpit), Mauer and Ross. The stern had already sunk and flames on the ocean were surrounding what remained of the boat. JFK was worried the gasoline tank would explode and ordered everyone into the water. Maguire was afraid to jump in because his rubber lifebelt had deflated and he wanted to get a spare one from the charthouse. JFK promised he wouldn't leave him and waited until Maguire had retrieved it, and then they jumped overboard together. That was one of many examples of JFK not abandoning his men -- even at risk of his own life. Maguire soon had a chance to prove his courage too. Here's the passage from the book, the pages scanned above:

...As the fire on the water around the boat subsided, Kennedy concluded that there would be no explosion. He and Maguire and Mauer swam back to the bow of the boat and climbed up on the deck. At Kennedy's direction Mauer got out the blinker, a two-foot-long tube with a light inside, and started walking around the hulk, flashing the light periodically as a beacon to any members of the crew who might still be alive in the water... As soon as Mauer was ready with the blinker, Kennedy removed his shoes, shirt and sidearms and dived overboard in a rubber lifebelt to search for the others. He was to be in the water approximately thirty of the next thirty-six hours. Fortunately, it was warm and calm. On the hulk Maguire and Mauer received the first inkling that others were alive when they heard Zinser's voice in the darkness calling, "Mr Thom is drowning. Bring the boat!" Dreading to swim back into the fumes, Maguire nevertheless got a line from the rope locker on the bow. He tied one end to a broken torpedo tube and the other end around his waist. With a prayer he stepped into the water and swam toward the sound of Zinser's voice, leaving Mauer, shipwrecked for the second time in three months, a solitary figure afloat on what was left of PT 109...


After the ordeal of PT 109 was over, and they'd all been rescued and recovered, Maguire became a member of JFK's PT-59 crew -- the boat JFK commanded after PT 109. The story of JFK & PT 59 -- where JFK's courage equals or surmounts even that of PT 109 -- would make a fantastic movie in itself. See JFK'S PT 59 CREW and JFK PT 59 SAVES THE MARINES

After the war, JFK kept in touch with most of the PT-109 crew and many of them were involved in the early political campaigns. And then, when JFK was running for President, all the crew threw their shoulders to the wheel to help JFK get elected. Here's an excerpt from the book:

JFKleavesNavy JFKcrewHelpElection

"...In the spring of 1944, after his weight had dropped to 125 pounds, Kennedy entered the New England Baptist Hospital in Boston for the first of two disc operations... While he was recuperating that summer many of his South Pacific buddies were back at Melville... Later on, Kennedy, Johnston, Maguire and McMahon participated in a war-bond program in Boston and then, along with Mrs McMahon and Mrs Johnston, spent the weekend at Hyannis Port.... In 1946 Kennedy invited Maguire, whose home is Jacksonville Beach, to come to Boston for a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, at which Kennedy, now just entering politics, was one of the principal speakers. That fall Fay came east from California to help him in his winning campaign for the House of Representatives. After this a number of years passed during which Kennedy saw little of his crew, who were scattered across the land. From their homes, however, the men watched with great interest as Kennedy, after serving three terms in the House, was elected to the Senate and then, in 1956, was nearly nominated for Vice-President at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago... The years of separation of skipper and crew came to an end in 1960 when Kennedy ran for the Presidency... Maguire got a merchant to donate a store and opened a Citizens for Kennedy office in Jacksonville Beach, which Kennedy carried by more than 100 votes...."

JFKPTFloat JFKcrewSaluteJFK

The thrill of a lifetime for the PT 109 crew (and a surprise for President Kennedy during the Inaugural Parade) was standing at attention on a replica PT-109 float, saluting their old skipper -- now their Commander in Chief.

I hope this background on Maguire -- signatory of your PT 109 movie poster -- will help you cherish that estate-sale treasure even more.

All the best,
Jackie Jura, October 2017

PS - Here is from the Orlando Sentinel, December 1990: John E Maguire, a former USA marshal and a shipmate of John F Kennedy on PT-109, died Sunday in Ponte Vedra. He was 74. The cause of death was not disclosed. Maguire served eight years as U.S. marshal for the 33-county middle district of Florida after being appointed by President Kennedy in 1961. During World War II he served under Kennedy, an ensign commanding the patrol boat PT-109.

PPS - The PT-109 DVD of the movie has arrived and I've scanned it at top of page

JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS (...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...)




watch PT 109 1963 Movie Trailer, YouTube

watch/listen PT 109 SONG, by Jimmy Dean 1962, YouTube

PT109Movie JFK PT 109 MOVIE

ActorsPT109movie Phyllis Loves Classic Movies (Back in the day when men were men and women were women and presidents looked like presidents a movie was made about John F Kennedy's service during WWII. The star of the film was Cliff Robertson, hand-picked by the president himself. The film: PT-109 (1963)....)

JFKPT109NewspaperAug43 Unknown John F. Kennedy is hero on PT-109, New York Times, August 20, 1943
The front page has a two column, two line head: "Kennedy's Son Is Hero in Pacific As Destroyer Splits His PT Boat" with the report carrying over to page 5 where is found a photo of "Lieutenant John F Kennedy", who was 26 years old at the time. This incident reports the now-famous sinking of his PT boat #109 which he commanded and his heroic actions in saving most of the men in his crew, previously presumed dead. At the time it was his father who was famous, Joseph P Kennedy, former ambassador to England. Once John F Kennedy became President this incident became the stuff of legend resulting in a movie and several books, interest being revived in 2002 by the discovery of the PT 109 by famed explorer Robert Ballard who also discovered the wrecks of the Bismark and Titanic. The article provides considerable detail of the incident (see) and is followed by a brief report headed: "Kennedy's Parents Overjoyed" with a dateline of Hyannis, Massachusetts. I suspect this is one of the few publications to report this particular event as other titles in our inventory do not...

CliffRobertsonJFKe watch Cliff Robertson, age 82, reminiscing about JFK picking him to portray him in PT-109, Interview March 2005 (...JFK wanted three things -- 1. the movie not to be an exaggerated Hollywood version of what happened; he wanted it to be historically accurate -- 2.He wanted any monies that might come from that to go to the survivors and their families and -- 3.He got to pick the actor... I met him shortly before he was killed... I got a call from Washington and they said the president wanted to invite you to come down whenever it was convenient... I went down on the Wednesday... I went over to the White House... He couldn't have been more gracious... We talked about our kids and we talked about the picture and he said he was very happy with what I'd done...)

USS PT 109 Final Crew List, Maritime Quest

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MaquireSignaturePhoto HitPT109comic PT Crew Names
(radioman next to skipper when PT-109 hit)
(Zinser, on watch below, started the engines)
Emails, Oct 20, 2017
watch PT 109 MOVIE & PT 109 SONG



Jackie Jura
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