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  PT-109
USN
PT 103 Class
Elco 80'

56 Tons
80' x 20' 8" x 3' 6"
37mm cannon (added)
20mm cannon (aft)
2 x Twin .50 cal MG
4 x 21" Torpedoes

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
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USN 1943
Captain  Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy (rescued) Brookline, MA
Crew  Ensign Leonard Thom (rescued) Sandusky, OH
Crew  Seaman 2nd Class Raymond Albert (rescued) Akron, OH
Radio  John McGuire (rescued)
Gunner  Raymond Starkey (rescued) CA
Gunner  MOMM2c Harold W. Marney, 2127352 (MIA / KIA) Chiopee, MA
Crew  TM2C Andrew John Kirksey, 6366765 (MIA / KIA) GA
Crew  Gerald Zinser (rescued)
Crew  William Johnson (rescued)
Crew  Charles Harris (rescued)
Crew  Patrick "Pappy" McMahon (rescued)
37mm Gunner  Ensign George Ross (rescued)
Sunk  August 2, 1943 at 1:30am

Ship History
Built by Elco at Bayonne, New Jersey as the seventh PT boat built built by Elco in Bayonne, NJ. Laid down March 4, 1942 as PT 103 Class Elco 80' Motor Torpedo Boat. Launched June 20, 1942 as PT-109. On July 10, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as PT-109. Completed July 19, 1942.

During late August 1942 at Norfolk Navy Yard loaded aboard SS Joseph Stanton with PT-107 and PT-108 as deck cargo and transported southward to the Panama Canal Zone (CZ). On September 22, 1942 assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Five (MTBRon 5) under the command of Lt. George A. Brackett. Until early 1943, operated in the Panama Canal Zone (CZ).

Assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Two (MTBRon 2) and loaded as deck cargo aboard SS Joseph Stanton and transported across the Pacific Ocean to Nouméa then towed to Guadalcanal. During April 1943 assigned to Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy.

On June 29, 1943 at 12:53pm moored alongside USS Zane (DMS-14) in Pepesala Bay off Pavuvu Island in the Russell Islands while the minesweeker embarked U.S. Army soldiers and cargo the departed at 1:14pm.

Sinking History
On August 1, 1943 at 4:00pm departed Rendova Harbor under the command of Lt(jg) Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy as one of fifteen PT-Boats on an overnight patrol in the Blackett Strait off Kolombangara. Division B included PT-109, PT-157, PT-159 and PT-162. Meanwhile, Japanese destroyers of the "Tokyo Express" including Amagiri made an overnight run to Vila on Kolombangara delivering soldiers and supplies. After completing their mission, the destroyers departed for Rabaul.

On August 2, 1943 at 1:30am while motoring in the Blacket Strait, rammed by Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The collision sank PT-109, splitting the vessel into two pieces. Aboard, Marney and Kirksey went Missing In Action (MIA) during the collision and McMahon was wounded.

Fates of the Crew
The crew of PT-109 clung to the wreckage of the bow. At dawn the remaining crew swam to Plum Pudding Island while Kennedy towed McMahon who was wounded by his life vest strap in his teeth. Several days passed and the men then swam southward to Nauro Island. Meanwhile, the sinking had been observed by coastwatcher 'Reg' Evans, who sent two of his Solomon Island scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana to search for any survivors. Finding Kennedy, he scratched into a coconut shell, that was delivered to Evans. The surviving crew were rescued by PT-157 and transported the crew to Rendova.

Memorials
Marney was officially declared dead on August 2, 1943. Kirksey was officially declared dead on August 3, 1944. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Both also have memorial markers at Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery Kirksey at section M1, row C, site 58. Marney at section M1, row C, site 54.

Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States (POTUS) January 20, 1961–November 22, 1963 when assassinated in Dallas, TX at age 46, Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 45 grave S-45.

Wreckage
During May 2002, Robert Ballard with Odyssey Enterprises for National Geographic searched for this shipwreck in the Blacket Straight. At 1,200' (360m) a piece of wreckage was identified as a torpedo tube from a PT-Boat, and claimed to be from PT-109. Later, their findings were confirmed as "most likely" PT-109 by the USN.

References
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - PT-109
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - PT-109, 1942-43 (photos)
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) - Report on Loss of PT-109
Navy Source - PT-109
NARA USS Zan War Diary June 1943 page 30 (June 29, 1943)
(Page 30) " 1253 PT109 moored alongside to starboard. 1314 PT 109 left from alongside.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold W. Marney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew J. Kirksey
FIndAGrave - Harold William Marney (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Harold William Marney (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Andrew Jackson Kirksey (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Andrew Jackson Kirksey (memorial marker photo)
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy (1962) pages 57, 95, 101, 103, 120, 123-125, 452, 456, 486, 488, 561 (index)
National Museum of the U.S. Navy USS PT-109
National Geographic "The Search For Kennedy's PT 109 (video)
Collision With History: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109
National Geographic "JFK's PT-109 Found, U.S. Navy Confirms" July 11, 2002
National Geographic PT Boat torpedo tube (photo)
Arlington National Cemetery ANC Explorer - John F. Kennedy (grave photo)

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Last Updated
June 20, 2021

 

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