The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Solomon Islander Who Helped Save JFK Dies At 93

@AFP

Honiara (AFP) — A Solomon Islander who helped save John F. Kennedy when a Japanese destroyer sank the future U.S. president’s patrol boat during World War II has died aged 93, his family said Monday.

Eroni Kumana and his fellow islander Buiku Gasa were out in a canoe in 1943 when they came across the injured Kennedy, who was then a naval lieutenant, and members of his crew stranded on a coral atoll.

The pair helped the Americans survive and Kennedy went on to become the 35th president of the United States, keeping a coconut from the ordeal as a paperweight on his White House desk.

Kumana’s son Esori said his father passed away surrounded by family members on Saturday aged 93 and was laid to rest on his home island of Ronongga on Monday.

“It was very sad (but) he lived a full life and we are proud of him,” he told AFP via telephone from the island, where villagers were preparing a feast in Kumana’s honour.

Kennedy’s boat PT-109 was on a night-time patrol when a Japanese destroyer suddenly loomed out of the dark and sheared the wooden vessel in half, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

Spilled fuel ignited in the water, causing both the Japanese and other US PT boats to assume the 13-man crew had all perished in the shark-infested waters.

In fact, 11 of them were still alive and when dawn broke Kennedy led his crew on a three-mile swim from the boat’s wreckage to a coral atoll.

Kennedy, who had suffered a ruptured spinal disc, towed a badly burned crewman behind him during the marathon swim.

Eventually Kumana and Gasa passed in their canoe. They helped collect food for the crew and Kennedy sent them off to get help with a message etched into the shell of a coconut, reading: “Nauru Isl commander/native knows posit/he can pilot/11 alive/need small boat/Kennedy”.

After being rescued, Kennedy retrieved the coconut and had it encased in plastic, using it as a paperweight throughout his post-war political career. It is still on display in the Kennedy Museum in Boston.

Kumana and Gasa were invited to Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration but were unable to make the trip to Washington.

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Gasa died in November 2005.

AFP Photo

Interested in world news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Gov. Ron DeSantis

Youtube Screenshot

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been featuring anti-vaxxer Dr. Jon Ward at COVID-19 events as he positions himself for a 2024 presidential run. Ward said in a podcast appearance last year that Dr. Anthony “Fauci should face a firing squad” because of his work.

Ward is a Florida dermatologist who, as Politico recently reported, has become “a central figure in DeSantis’ Covid-19 events.” He appeared at a COVID-19 press conference with DeSantis on January 17. In August 2022, DeSantis appointed Ward to the Northwest Florida State College District Board of Trustees.

Keep reading...Show less

President Joe Biden

Youtube Screenshot

President Joe Biden and Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy are set to meet Wednesday, a meeting that is not going to be a debt ceiling negotiation. Biden made that very clear Monday, telling CNN that his message on that is simple: “show me your budget and I’ll show you mine.”

To reinforce that, White House advisers Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, released a memo Tuesday to “interested parties.” There are two questions Biden will pose at the meeting, Deese and Young write: “Will the Speaker commit to the bedrock principle that the United States will never default on its financial obligation,” and “When will Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans release their Budget?”

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}