Wednesday, January 9, 2019
He Saved JFK's Life-- Part 2: PT-109 Cut In Half By Japanese Destroyer Amagiri
William Liebenow joined the Navy almost immediately after Pearl Harbor. Almost two years later, he was stationed in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago east of Australia and Papua New Guinea. One of his tent mates was a 25-year-old skipper from Massachusetts, "Jack" Kennedy.
Both men were commanders of patrol torpedo boats, better known as PT boats. Theses swift, wooden ships held about a dozen men, four deadly torpedoes and three powerful engines that could send them zooming across the water and in between the bigger and slower Japanese ships.
During one night patrol Kennedy's boat, PT-109, couldn't get out of the way fast enough. It was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. the Amagiri, and cut in half. It's engine, powered by high octane gas, exploded. Two men were killed and the others clung to the boat's floating front end.
Eventually, Kennedy and ten survivors swam four hours to a small, unoccupied island, where they could wait for help to come.