Posted by: SJS | December 14, 2015

Young ensign JFK. Praise for William Doyle’s excellent book!

JFK new Navy Ensign 1942

This striking photograph of John F. Kennedy as a new ensign in the USN is featured in William Doyle’s new book about PT 109.  The photo was shared with the author by JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, from a private family collection.  The picture was taken in 1942.

As do few other photographs of this enormously complex man, this photo conveys a depth of seriousness and determination as well as a calm acceptance of the full range of challenges that come with wartime service.  By opting to serve as a PT officer, the young Kennedy knew he was choosing work that was dangerous, dirty, and unglamorous.

Long before the destruction of PT 109 hurled Kennedy into the brutal test of courage, survival, and endurance that the ordeal became,  he was fully aware that he was headed into harm’s way.  The face I see in this photograph tells me that he knew what he might be in for and he was determined to go forward nonetheless.

I cannot recommend Doyle’s book highly enough.  Forget everything you thought you knew about PT 109 and John F. Kennedy.  Doyle’s book will rewrite the story that you thought you knew.   What a read!


  1. This is an incredible photograph that does convey alot in terms of what he thought he may be destined for. Your blog has illuminated this important American in a way that is helpful in understanding how his role as a leader developed.

  2. My father Lt. R.J. Williams, and my uncle Lt. W.H. McCaughey taught JFK how to handle an Elco 80 at Melville. Here is my father’s story:

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