Posted by: SJS | September 7, 2014

Eroni Kumana, who rescued JFK, dies at 96

Eroni Kumana with JFK bust

In early August, 1943, Eroni Kumana and his fellow boatman, Biuku Gasa, spotted and rescued Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy and members of his crew of PT 109 nearly a week after their boat had been destroyed by a Japanese warship in the Solomon Islands.

Kennedy and his men were exhausted and starving when Kumana and Gasa gave them what food they had and built a fire for the shipwrecked crew. Using sign language, Kennedy and the two men agreed on a plan to carry a message to the Naval base at Rendova, about 35 miles away from the island on which the crew was hiding out from the Japanese. It was Eroni Kumana who showed Kennedy how to scratch a message with a penknife in the delicate skin beneath the hard shell of a coconut.

It was through the action of these two men, Kumana and Gasa, who lived their entire lives on a tiny Pacific island, 900 miles east of New Guinea, that the life of JFK was saved along with his crew. Their impact on the history of the world was huge, to say the least.

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