Posted by: SJS | July 4, 2011

MacArthur and the PTs

As the image and popularity of General Douglas MacArthur grew over the course of  WWII,  the character traits that defined him came to be associated also with the PT boats.  As MacArthur was seen to be daring, decisive, and even defiant so were the small boats that played such a pivotal role in his narrow escape from the Japanese forces closing in on him early in the war.

In the book,  Hunters in the Shallows,  Curtis L. Nelson explains the unusual Army-Navy relationship.  “They (the PTs) were built of little more than mahogany, plywood and lots of glue, like throwbacks to the bygone days of wooden ships and iron men, which only highlighted their romantic appeal.  MacArthur’s popularity also contributed to their public luster, his rescue being the first good news to come out of the Philippines since the Japanese attack the previous December.”

MacArthur & Bong

General MacArthur and Major Richard I. Bong

The photo of General MacArthur awarding a medal to Major Richard I. Bong of the Army Air Force was shared with me by a good friend, Dick Hegner.  Dick’s father was in Bong’s unit in the Army Air Force.  One of the most famous American fighter pilots of WWII, Major Bong was awarded the Medal of Honor.

When MacArthur made his successful (and promised) return to the Philippines in 1945, PT 373 was one of the boats that transported him.  Red Stahley, Tom Saffles and all their fellow PT sailors were proud of their association with the famous general who exemplified the resilient and intrepid spirit of the American armed forces.

Happy July 4th!  Thanks to all of our veterans, living and deceased, who have served our nation with such distinction and generosity.


  1. They brought him ashore for the famous “I have returned moment.”. That’s incredible!

    • Lloyd, The PTs and MacArthur had a very interesting relationship. They were both good PR agents for each other. Thanks for your support of the blog! Steve

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