The mystery of Jonh Fitzgerald Kennedy’s second motor sailer.


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Lieutenant John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the future president of the United States who was assassinated in Dallas, was aboard a PT-109 patrol boat during World War II, which was sunk in the Pacific in 1943 by a Japanese destroyer in shark-infested waters.

The crew’s rescue, recounted in a New Yorker article by novelist John Hersey, helped build J.F.K.’s image as a war hero. What Kennedy did after the rescue has remained, until now, a mystery.

After the sinking of PT-109, Kennedy continued his wartime service as a PT-59 commander. He attacked Japanese barges and shore batteries and rescued 10 marines stranded in the Solomon Islands septu- trional, one of whom died in Kennedy’s bunk. When the war ended, J.F.K.’s second patrol boat was decommissioned and sold as a charter boat for weekend fishermen.

What happened to it? For decades, boaters passed North Cove, a small indentation along the Manhattan side of the Harlem River, unaware that a piece of presidential history was embedded in the muddy bottom.

This historical relic has finally come to light. A crane pulled up pieces of what is believed to be the PT-59 commanded by John F. Kennedy, which will be transported to the Battleship Cove Maritime Museum in Fall River, Mass.

The Navy career of John F. Kennedy, pictured below, during World War II was well publicized and became part of the president’s legend.


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