May 29 of this year is John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 100th birthday. The Solomon Islands are marking the occasion with issue of a 40 mm, 1 oz., .999 fine silver dollar struck by the Royal Australian Mint in frosted unc. Mintage is 15,000.
The Solomon Islands is an appropriate issuing agency. This is where Lieutenant Kennedy took command of PT-109 on April 24, 1943, based at Tulagi Island. And it is where, on the night of Aug. 1-2, PT-109 was cut in half by the Japanese destroyer, Amagiri.
The survivors succeeded in swimming to an island three miles away. Despite injuring his back, Kennedy towed a badly burned crewman behind him using a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth.
Kennedy and his executive officer were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism and the Purple Heart for injuries received.
Subsequently, when in command of PT-59, Kennedy was responsible for assisting in the rescue of 87 marines stranded on Choiseul Island held by the Japanese.
He was relieved of his command in November under doctor’s orders and returned to the United States in January 1944.
The reverse design of the coin honors Kennedy’s WWII Navy career. The portrait at top left is taken from a photograph showing him aboard PT-109 in 1943. The torpedo-boat itself is depicted below.
The coin is currently available from Downies at www.downies.com.
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