Posted by: SJS | September 28, 2014

JFK’s coconut message in ’43

JFK's coconut message

The recent death of Eroni Kumana of the Solomon Islands has rekindled memories of the role that he played in the rescue of future president John F. Kennedy after Kennedy and his crewmates from PT 109 were stranded on a remote island after their boat was smashed by a Japanese ship in 1943.

It was Kumana and his crewmate Gasa who suggested that Kennedy use a coconut to transmit a message; the two scouts also showed JFK how to carve the words into the coconut shell. These were the words that were scratched into what became the most famous coconut in history:


Kumana and Gasa paddled 38 miles at great risk through Japanese-controlled waters to deliver the message to the coast-watcher who then radioed the news to the Navy squadron commander on Rendova Island. Two rescue boats brought PT 109’s survivors to the base early on the morning of August 8th, 1943.

It was a story almost beyond belief. The two intrepid young boatmen who saved JFK have etched their name in history as surely as JFK’s words were carved into the coconut.


  1. Steve,
    The actual coconut is still with us and housed at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.

    • Gary,

      Thanks! Just one more reason for me to get up there to visit the JFK Presidential Library.


  2. I had never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner.

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