Eighty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was fighting for his life and that of his PT-109 crew when their boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, later identified as the Amagiri.

President Kennedy swam between Plum Pudding Island (now Kennedy Island), Naru Island, and Olasana Island — multiple times, at night — to save himself and his PT-109 crew.

On Olasana Island Kennedy came across two locals, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who turned out to be islander scouts for the Allies. The islanders showed Kennedy how to scratch a few words into the husk of a green coconut. Gasa and Kumana delivered the message to the Allies who later rescued Kennedy and his men.

His daughter Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Kennedy- Schlossberg, were in the Western Province of Solomon Islands to recreate the swim to commemorate the heroism and perseverance of the President and his crew.

“It gave me a renewed appreciation of the heroism of my father, his crew, and the Solomon Scouts. It was so meaningful to do this with my son, Jack,” said Ambassador Kennedy

“I can't believe I am standing in a place so far from home but so close to my heart.
This place made President Kennedy the man he was. It is where he first experienced the responsibility of leadership — the knowledge that the lives and safety of his crew depended on him. He risked his own life to save theirs. That became the way he lived his life.

“My son and I are honored to be able to thank you in person for what your fathers did 80 years ago. My father owed his life to their courage, their willingness to put themselves at risk, and to serve their country in the battle for freedom.

“Our lives may be shaped by historical events and the times in which we live, but it is the connections we make to one another that define us and give our lives meaning. It made me want to come here one day though I never imagined it would really happen.

“Now, Jack and I are here to renew the bond of friendship and to thank you for all that you and your family have done. We will carry this memory with us always and pass down the story that unites us across generations, space and time,” Ambassador Kennedy said.