JFK in World War II Exhibit Opens May 21, 2005

For Immediate Release: May 21, 2005
Further information: Brent Carney (617) 514-1662, Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org

Boston — The Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II this year with a special exhibit on John F. Kennedy’s military service in the U.S. Navy in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

The new exhibit, which features a large selection of never-before-seen materials on temporary loan by members of President Kennedy’s immediate family, opens May 21 and runs through Spring 2006.

“Many young Americans of all backgrounds volunteered for military service in 1941, including young John F. Kennedy,” said Museum Curator Frank Rigg. “To honor their service and to commemorate their sacrifices in the 60th anniversary year of the end of World War II, we are presenting this special exhibit as a tribute to all the enlisted men, women and junior officers who, like Kennedy, went in harm’s way to serve their nation.”

Commanding the Patrol Torpedo Craft (PT) USS PT 109, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, John Kennedy and his crew participated in the early campaigns in the Allies’ long struggle to roll back the Japanese from their conquests throughout the island chains of the Pacific Ocean.  The role of the small but fast PT boats was to attack the Japanese shipping known as the "Tokyo Express" that supplied Japanese troops in the islands, and to support U.S. Army and Marine Corps attacking the Japanese on shore.

Among the items featured in the exhibit will be:

  • Kennedy's own scrapbook of snapshots showing him and his young comrades in arms;
  • One of the actual logbooks from the USS PT 109;
  • Kennedy’s Navy dress uniform;
  • JFK’s dog tags, on temporary loan from his brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy;
  • The coconut husk on which JFK scratched the message, “NAURO NATIVE KNOWS POSIT HE CAN PILOT 11 ALIVE NEED SMALL BOAT KENNEDY” that brought rescue for his crew after the PT 109 was destroyed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri;
  • Handwritten letter JFK wrote to his parents and family during the war;
  • Sketches created by Senator John F. Kennedy on his personal stationery to illustrate the collision of PT 109 and the Japanese destroyer Amagiri for the screenwriter of a 1957 TV play on PT 109;
  • Framed photographs from the war that Kennedy displayed in his Senate office;
  • The Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps medal Kennedy received for his heroism in the rescue of his crew;
  • A war club from the Solomon Islands that JFK brought home as a souvenir for his younger brother Teddy.
  • An oil painting of the collision of PT 109 and the Japanese destroyer Amagiri by an official U.S. Navy artist;
  • Documents from JFK’s U.S. Navy service file;
  • The U.S. Navy report on the sinking of the PT 109 written by Lt. (later Supreme Court Justice) Byron White.
  • Handwritten notes JFK made in 1957 in which he recollected Biuki, the Solomon Islander who was instrumental in his rescue: “I don’t remember his name – I never knew it – but I will never forget him,” Kennedy wrote.

The exhibit will take visitors into this formative period of JFK's life, an experience he shared with so many other young men of his generation, and an experience that shaped their characters and the character of our nation for much of the remainder of the 20th century.

The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will offer veteran's of all branches of the military free admission from opening day on Armed Forces Day, May 21 through July 4 - Independence Day. Admission will also be free to veterans of all branches of the military on Veteran's Day, November 11. Servicemen and women in uniform are always admitted free to the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The special exhibition, “JFK in World War II” is sponsored by Raytheon Corporation. The Media Sponsor is WCVB-TV 5.

“JFK in World War II” is just one of the many exciting and inspiring exhibits visitors will find in the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The Museum’s 25 multimedia exhibits and period settings from the White House offer an exciting “you are there” experience, and create a stirring account of President Kennedy’s thousand days in office. Beginning with 17-minute film narrated by President Kennedy, visitors step back into the recreated world of the early 1960s and witness the first televised presidential debate; accompany first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy on her televised tour of the White House; sit in on press conferences with the President; relive the thrill of Col. John Glenn’s first orbital mission; stroll through White House corridors; witness Cabinet meetings during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and observe the president’s televised address from the Oval Office on the Civil Rights crisis.

One of Boston’s most popular destinations for visitors from all nations, the architectural masterpiece designed by I.M. Pei sits on a 10-acre waterfront site on Columbia Point offering panoramic views of Boston’s skyline and Harbor Islands.

General admission to the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is $10.00. Admission for seniors over the age of 62 and college students with appropriate identification is $8.00, and for children ages 13-17, $7.00. Children ages 12 and under are admitted for free.

The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the exceptions of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The Library is located in the Dorchester section of Boston, off Morrissey Boulevard, next to the campus of the University of Massachusetts/Boston. Parking is free. There is free shuttle-service from the JFK/UMass T Stop on the Red Line. The Museum is fully handicapped accessible. For more information, call (866) JFK-1960 or access www.jfklibrary.org on the Internet.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization.

News Editors Please Note: Jpeg images of John F. Kennedy in World War II are available on request. Please contact Brent Carney at Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org