Posted by: SJS | September 17, 2014

The young boatmen who found PT 109’s crew

Biuku Gasa & Eroni Kumana

In early August, 1943, the crew of PT 109 was stranded and starving on tiny Olasana Island in the South Pacific. It so happened that two young scouts working for the Allied forces in the Solomon Islands at that time had decided to take a detour on their way back to their home on Sepo Island.

The scouts decided to make a brief stopover on Olasana because of the fresh coconuts that flourished on that island. Because of that detour, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana came ashore on Olasana Island on that fateful day in August and found the shipwrecked crew of PT 109.

This photograph was taken during a reenactment by Gasa and Kumana sometime in the early 1960s of that day some twenty years earlier when they had discovered the PT sailors who were barely alive, clinging to a fading hope that they would be discovered.

These two intrepid boatmen, neither of whom was yet 20 years old, set in motion the rescue of JFK and his PT crew. It is a story that only grows more amazing as the years pass.


  1. Isn’t it amazing how chance drives the world? Had Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana not decided to come ashore on Olasana, the history of the United States for the past 50 years might have been entirely different. To think, but for two teenagers looking for fresh coconuts……

    • You make an excellent point. The story of these two young men taking a detour on that fateful day had major implications for the history of the world. We never know from day to day how things will unfold–and how we may become actors in a far larger story. Thanks for your comments and support.

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