WONDERING WAS BROTHER ON PT-109?
To Orwell Today,
For most of my life, I've heard that my brother, Carroll L. Melson, was stationed aboard PT109, but was not aboard the night she sank. It seems that I remember hearing that he was in sick bay. I do know that on leave once he came home and had a friend with him named Zinser.
When I was just a very small child I remember my mother sitting on a foot stool in front of our Philco Cabinet Radio and crying. Later when I was older I remembered this and asked about it and she told me that she was crying because she had just heard that PT109 had sunk, and that was where my brother Carroll was stationed.
I'm now 70 years old and most everyone is dead that would remember anything about this except my sister who is 79 and remembers the same thing I've just told you. Carroll worked in the engine room or whatever it was called at the time. Could you shed any light on this for me???
The names of all of JFK's PT-109 crew members are known and your brother, Melson, is not among them.
On board when PT-109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer and sank on August 2nd, 1943 were:
The two men who died were:
Three PT-109 crew members had been injured on previous missions on June 30th and July 19th and were in sick-bay so not on board that night. They were:
Your brother's friend Zinser was one of the replacements (along with Albert, Marney, and Starkey) who came on board PT-109 on July 30th -- just a couple days before it sank on August 2nd. Zinser was a motor mechanic and worked in the engine room.
Although your brother was never on PT-109 under JFK, it could be that he served on PT-109 under a previous commander. The brand new PT-109 boat had arrived in the Solomon Islands in July 1942 and had two commanders prior to JFK arriving in April 1943:
from Jul 1942 to Feb 1943.....Lieutenant Westholm
from Feb 1943 to Apr 1943.....Ensign Larson & Ensign Thom
from Apr 1943 to Aug 1943.....Lieutenant Kennedy
It's more likely, however, that your brother was stationed on a different PT-boat. For example, on August 1, the very day PT-109 later left for its final mission, the PT base at Rendova Island was attacked by Japanese dive bombers. Miraculously PT-109 wasn't hit which was in part because of JFK's talent as a skipper, ie they untied from the dock and raced out into open water. Quite a few boats were damaged and two of them sank -- PT-164 and PT-117. Two men died and many were injured.
Perhaps your mother, knowing your brother was serving on PT boats in the Solomons, upon hearing the news over the radio about survivors of PT-109 being found -- but two dead -- had worried that her son was on that boat and that's why she was crying.
I think it would be helpful if you visit the website MARITIME QUEST which is a source for people sharing news about PT-109 and other PT-boats.
I hope that shines some light for you.
All the best,
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JFK'S BROTHER FLEW DRONE
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SURVIVAL: THE STORY OF PT-109
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