A low-flying Royal Air Force Hurricane directs a
Type Two HSL Whaleback rescue craft
to an American pilot downed off the North
Africa Coast, 1943. RAF Whalebacks were essentially stripped down PT boats, good for around 36 knots.
USS Gillis (AVD-12) tending Higgins type motor torpedo boats (PTs) of Motor Torpedo Squadron 13, in Casco Cove, Massacre Bay, Attu Island, Aleutians, 21 June 1943. Note the PBY Catalina flying boat astern of Gillis.
“David and Goliath - Modern Version Artwork by James Sessions, depicting Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley’s PT-34 torpedoing a Japanese ship in Binanga Bay, Bataan, Philippines, 19 January 1942. The ship is depicted as a cruiser, but was actually a freighter. Though reportedly hit and sunk, this is not confirmed in Japanese records.”
The Army medically disqualified Kennedy from service.
He won a Pulitzer Prize.
He donated his congressional and presidential salaries to charity.
Kennedy installed a secret taping system in the White House.
Kennedy proposed a joint Soviet mission to the moon.
President Kennedy was the richest president ever.
Joseph Kennedy (his father) escaped the infamous 1920 Wall Street bombing.
President Kennedy played the role of movie producer.
He was the only president to win a Purple Heart.
Kennedy wasn’t the youngest president ever as everyone thinks.
Kennedy almost died twice before he became president.
JFK died younger than any other U.S. president to date.
JFK’s application to Harvard was just 5 sentences long.
JFK has been the only Roman Catholic U.S. president.
JFK bought 1,200 cuban cigars just hours before signing the embargo against Cuba.
John F. Kennedy, had he lived, would have inherited a fortune from his father estimated at US$1 billion in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.
Larry King crashed into John F. Kennedy’s car in 1958. JFK said he’d forget the whole thing if King promised to vote for him when he ran for president.
The White House Correspondent’s Dinner was men-only until 1962, when JFK refused to attend unless women did.
C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, and John F. Kennedy died on the same day.
As Senator, JFK had been opposed to the Apollo space program and wanted to terminate it.
As one of his first presidential acts, JFK asked Congress to create the Peace Corps.
Aspiring actor Leonard Nimoy once gave a cab ride to future president John F Kennedy.
After John F. Kennedy’s WW2 PT boat was sunk, he wrote a message on a coconutasking for help. It worked. Kennedy kept the coconut and it became a Presidential paperweight.
In 1961, a little girl wrote a letter to JFKasking if Santa Claus was OK during the Soviet’s nuclear testing at the North Pole. Kennedy wrote back to her saying that he spoke with Santa and that he’s okay.
JFK was the first President to have been a Boy Scout.
The Sea Org is the elite organization within Scientology, the members of which serve as the primary movers and shakers of the religion. The Sea Org is a strict organization, forcing members to work 100 hour work weeks, discouraging marriage, and forcing female members to get an abortion if they become pregnant.
Founded in 1967 by L. Ron Hubbard, the Sea Org wears US Navy uniforms, and the members are given naval ranks. This was because of Hubbard’s service with the US Navy during World War II. He claimed that he held the rank of commodore, had served in all five theatres of World War II, and had been awarded numerous medals and decorations for valor in combat, and was seriously wounded. In reality he held the rank of Lieutenant, commanded a pair of PT Boats, served mostly stateside, never saw combat, and his service was best described as substandard. The highlights of his military career include him making false reports about sinking two Japanese submarines and creating an international incident after bombarding a Mexican island just for shits and giggles.
Lieutenant John F. Kennedy after his assignments on PT Boats and his return to the United States, Jan 1944. Note the amblyopia in his right eye that prevented him from being a pilot like his brother, Joe.
Just offscreen of the last screenshot is the destroyer who intentionally sailed into a torpedo for me. I was the only surviving ship of our entire force. I sank eleven PT boats, shot down 22 planes, and was carrying survivors from approximately seven different ships.
Illif D. Richardson was certainly an interesting figure during World War II. A radio expert and PT Boat crewman with the rank of ensign, Richardson was stationed in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked and invaded the islands. When the Japanese took over the country, he fled into the jungles and became a guerilla fighter, joining the Philippine Resistance. With his radio skills, Richardson was able to set up a secret communication network between all of the various Filipino resistance groups, and for three years he was responsible for coordinating the operations of the Philippine Resistance. In 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur awarded him for his exploits by assigning him to US Army Intelligence and awarding him the rank of Major. Interestingly, Richardson was the only US serviceman to hold officers commissions in both the US Army and US Navy simultaneously.
While working with the Filipino Resistance, Richardson took special interest in the homemade firearms produced and used by many Filipino people. Often simple people with access to few resources, they were able to cobble together crude but working firearms built from scrap metal and cast away parts. Such home gunsmithing had been a tradition in the Philippines dating back to when they revolted against the Spanish in the late 19th century, and continued during the Spanish American War and Philippine American War. Home gunsmithing is still common today. One of the most common firearm designs was the slamfire shotgun. A single shot shotgun, it had a very curious action. The barrel consisted of two tubes, an inner tube shrouded by a larger out tube. To load the user would remove the outer tube and insert a shotgun shell into it. The inner tube was mounted with a fixed firing pin, and the user would then replace the outer tube. Finally, the user would slam the outer barrel back, banging the cartridge primer against the firing pin which discharged the shell. It was a very crude system, and not a very effective combat weapon, but the Filipinos were able to successfully ambush enemy soldiers with them, thus acquiring rifles, machine guns, and grenades.
When Richardson returned to the United States, he instantly became famous, writing his memoirs and touring the country. To cash in on his fame, Richardson attempted to go into the firearms business by making replicas of the slamfire shotguns that were used by Filipino fighters. The Richardson Guerilla gun was also a slamfire shotgun, chambered in 12 gauge. While it appears that it had a trigger, its actually a safety mechanism so that any bump or jolt does not cause the primer to make contact with the firing pin, causing an accidental discharge. The trigger connected to a lever which held the barrel in place, so the use would have to hold the trigger, unlocking the barrel so that it could be “slam fired”. The Richardson shotgun was cheap to produce, and was meant to simulate the crudeness of the Filipino design. Even the stock was crudely cut and poorly finished. The Richardson Guerilla gun was a commercial flop, and few wear produced. While it was an interesting novelty, in the end it was a piece of junk, based on the designs of desperate people who threw away their slamfire guns when they acquired something better.
Battleship Cove, located on scenic Mt. Hope Bay, harbors the largest
collection of preserved US Navy ships in the world. The fleet includes
five National Historic Landmarks: Battleship USS Massachusetts, Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Submarine USS Lionfish, and PT Boats 617 and 796
U.S. history books tend to leap from December 7, 1941, directly to the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, with perhaps at most a terse sentence or two devoted to General MacArthur and the Philippines somewhere in between. Little or no attention was (or is) accorded the sacrificial role played by the aging, outnumbered vessels of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. This symbolic force, a vestige of the nineteenth-century station fleet system and never intended to serve as a bulwark against Japanese aggression, was snubbed by MacArthur himself—a charismatic leader fond of saying that “man’s noblest quality” was sacrifice. The general smirked in Adm. Thomas Hart’s face in the fall of 1941, taunting him, “Get yourself a real fleet, Tommy, then you will belong.” One wonders how much contemptuous humor MacArthur had left to spew at the Asiatic Fleet’s “combat inferiority” in March 1942, when he and his family were evacuated by Bulkley’s PT boats, or “delivered from the Jaws of Death,” as the general phrased his escape with characteristic bombast.
A Blue Sea Of Blood: Deciphering The Mysterious Fate of the USS Edsall, by Donald M. Kehn