SOLOMON NATIVES HID JFK IN CANOE
Kennedy then picked up a handful of PT-109 tie clasps
and asked Kevu how many children he had. "Six", Ben said.
"Give these to your children", the President said.
"And give some of them to those other fellows who were with you in the canoe that day".
To Orwell Today,
Thank you for this site: OZ COASTWATCHER EVANS RESCUED JFK.
It highlights the involvement of the 7 other natives who returned to rescue JFK.
I am related to one of the rescuers,
Thank you so much for telling me you've read the story on my website about the other natives -- the seven Solomon Island scouts who Australian Coastwatcher Evans sent from Gomu island to bring food, water and first-aid to JFK and the ten other survivors on Olasana island. By that time the PT-109 survivors had been discovered by the other two natives -- Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana -- and JFK had given them the message on the coconut to take to the torpedo boat base at Rendova. But on their way Gasa and Kumana stopped at Wana Wana island where they told Benjamin Kevu, the English-speaking scout, about the survivors. Kevu sent a scout to Gomu Island to give Evans the news.
Then, as we all know -- and as portrayed in the PT-109 movie -- the seven natives, led by Kevu, gave JFK the note from Evans ordering him to accompany the natives to the coastwatcher base at Gomu to make arrangements for the rescue of the ten remaining men. JFK got into the canoe, lay down with his feet toward the bow, and the natives covered him with palm leaves in case an enemy plane flew overhead.
And sure enough, halfway to Gomu, a Japanese plane spotted the canoe and circled low to investigate. JFK heard the engine and asked what was going on and Kevu told him to stay down, then Kevu stood up and friendily waved at the plane which then took off. For the rest of the way the natives serenaded JFK with hymns they'd learned from the missionaries.
There's a famous painting in President Kennedy's Oval Office -- presented to him by coastwatcher Evans -- of JFK and the natives arriving at Gomu and JFK stepping out of the canoe.
But one thing about the story of the seven native rescuers that many people probably don't realize, is that Benjamin Kevu travelled to the United States and visited JFK in his Oval Office at the White House. That is an honour very few people ever experience. Here is the story, from the book JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE written by JFK's two closest aides, Kenny O'Donnell and Dave Powers:
The Kennedy Inauguration took place on a Friday.... In the next week such personal mementoes as his pieces of scrimshaw -- bits of whale teeth etched with sailing ship designs -- and his Navy identity card encased in a glass ashtray and the famous coconut shell from Nauro Island in the Solomons began to appear on his desk. The coconut shell was carved with the SOS message that he sent from Nauro by a native messenger after the survivors from the wrecked PT-109 were stranded on that island in 1943.
NAURO ISL NATIVE KNOWS POSIT HE CAN PILOT 11 ALIVE NEED SMALL BOAT KENNEDY. The President later decorated his office with naval paintings, ship models, flags, and a plaque given to him by Admiral Hyman Rickover inscribed with a Breton fishermen's prayer, "O, God, Thy sea is great, and my boat is so small". While she was rummaging in the White House basement, Jackie found a magnificent desk, made from the timbers of the British warship H.M.S. Resolute, that Queen Victoria had presented to President Rutherford B Hayes in 1878. President Franklin D Roosevelt had used it for his Fireside Chat radio broadcasts. She had it sanded and refinished and moved it into her husband's office early in February, much to his delight.
The desk had a hinged panel in its side that opened like a door. When John became old enough to walk and talk, the President would often bring him to the office in the morning after Caroline had gone to school. John would hide under the desk while the President was talking to me and other staff members about the day's appointments. We would hear a scratching noise behind the panel of the desk, and the President would exclaim, "Is there a rabbit in there?" The panel would swing open and John would pop out of the desk, growling and then rolling on the carpet screaming with laughter...
...The discussion with the South Vietnamese security secretary was to be followed by an eleven o'clock meeting with Robert G Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia. But while the President was talking with Thuan, I received word from Bobby's office that on that morning of all mornings Barney Ross, who had served with Kennedy on PT-109, was on his way to the White House with Ben Kevu, the Solomon Islands native who had saved the lives of the surviving members of Kennedy's crew by carrying the message to Kennedy on Nauro Island from the Australian coast watcher at Gomu. Kevu, I was told, would be arriving at the President's office within a few minutes. We kept the Prime Minister of Australia waiting in the Cabinet Room while we brought to the President this other celebrated visitor from the same part of the world. Kennedy had not seen his rescuer since 1943. They embraced, and the President and Barney Ross sat down and talked happily with Kevu, who was now fifty-four years old and had been brought to the United States by Jack Paar for a special television show. Kevu explained to the President that he had had to paddle "many miles" in his canoe to reach the island where he boarded a plane for the trip to America. The President went to his desk, picked up the coconut with the SOS message scratched on it, and showed it to Kevu. "Do you remember this, Ben?" he asked. Kevu studied the coconut and nodded. "Rendova", he said. Then the President took down from the wall of his office the framed message from the Australian coast watcher, Lt Arthur Reginald Evans, that Kevu had carried back to Kennedy and Ross on Nauro:
To Senior Officer, Naru Is. Friday 11pm. Have just learnt of your presence on Naru Is. and also that two natives have taken news to Rendova. I strongly advise you return immediately to here in this canoe and by the time you arrive here I will be in radio communication with authorities at Rendova and we can finalise plans to collect balance your party. A.R. Evans, Lt. R.A.N.V.R. Will warn aviation of your crossing Ferguson passage.
Kennedy then picked up a handful of PT-109 tie clasps and asked Kevu how many children he had. "Six", Ben said. "Give these to your children", the President said. "And give some of them to those other fellows who were with you in the canoe that day".
The President asked Dave to bring in the Prime Minister of Austsralia, who was waiting patiently in the Cabinet Room, and introduced Menzies to Kevu. The President walked outside with Kevu when Ross and Ben were leaving, and watched him going into the West Lobby where Kevu was besieged by reporters and photographers. "Just think of it, Dave", the President said to Powers, "if it wasn't for Ben Kevu, you wouldn't be here in the White House today". "You mean you wouldn't be here", Dave said. "I meant just what I said", Kennedy said, laughing. "If it wasn't for Ben, you wouldn't be here"....
~ end quoting Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye ~
The person who accompanied Ben Kevu to the White House to meet JFK was Barney Ross, one of the survivors from PT-109. Ross was the officer who joined JFK's crew at the very last moment (because his previous boat had been sunk) and his job was manning the machine gun JFK had salvaged and nailed to the bow of the boat for extra fire-power.
In the PT-109 movie, the role of Barney Ross is played by an actor, but the real Barney Ross is in the movie too -- he plays the role of their Navy Commander (the grumpy one JFK throws the bucket of water on).
It would be wonderful if some of the seven native scouts who participated in the canoe ride with JFK -- or their descendents -- hear about their story being told. They are Solomon Island WWII heroes in their own right -- who JFK loved and never forgot.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, 2018
OZ COASTWATCHER EVANS RESCUED JFK
JFK SOLOMON SWIMS SAVED SURVIVORS
SOLOMON RESCUER KUMANA HONORS JFK
JFK PT 109 CREW and JFK'S PT 109 WHO'S WHO
watch PT 109 1963 Movie Trailer, YouTube
watch/listen PT 109 SONG, by Jimmy Dean 1962, YouTube
JFK PT 109 MOVIE
JFK & RFK EMAIL FROM READERS
JFK TRUTH & UNTRUTH and JFK ASSASSINATION PUZZLE PIECES
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