Before the release of PT 109 (1963) there were several movies made about the United States of America presidents, including The Spirit of ’76, 1917, The Birth of a Nation 1915, Young Mr. Lincoln 1939, Tennessee Johnson 1942, and The Rough Riders 1927.
This particular movie was released just a few months before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It stars Cliff Robertson as Lt. JG John Kennedy.
It’s the story of the PT boat [Patrol Torpedo] #109 that was launched in 1942 during WWII. While Kennedy and his men were on patrol seeking Japanese naval units they were unexpectedly rammed by a destroyer.
Around 2:00 a.m. on 2 August 1943, on a moonless night, Kennedy’s boat was idling on one engine to avoid detection of her wake by Japanese aircraft when the crew realized they were in the path of the Japanese destroyer Amagiri, which was returning to Rabaul from Vila, Kolombangara, after offloading supplies and 900 soldiers. Amagiri was traveling at a relatively high speed of between 23 and 40 knots (43 and 74 km/h) in order to reach harbor by dawn, when Allied air patrols were likely to appear. Wikipedia
For a complete detailing of the saga of PT 109 and young Lt. Kennedy please go to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The movie was based on Robert Donovan’s book, PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II. It was directed by Leslie H. Martinson.
The cast includes
- Cliff Robertson – Lt. JG John F. Kennedy
- Ty Hardin – Ensign Leonard J. Thom
- James Gregory – Commander C.R. Ritchie
- Robert Culp -Ensign George ‘Barney’ Ross
- Grant Williams – Lt. Alvin Cluster
- Lew Gallo – Yeoman Rogers
- Errol John – Benjamin Kevu
- Michael Pate – Lt. Reginald Evans
- Robert Blake – Gunner’s Mate Charles ‘Bucky’ Harris
- William Douglas – Gerard Zinser
- Biff Elliot – Seaman Edgar E. Mauer
- Norman Fell – Machinist Edmund Drewitch
I had to rise early to go to church for practice. While I was sitting in Sunday School I was getting sleepy due to lack of sleep.
I prayed a brief prayer that the Lord would help me not to have wasted my Saturday night staying up so late and watching this great movie. So, sometime later, perhaps the same day, I was inspired to write these words and the music that went along with the song, PT 109.
Words & Music by Chuck Whetstone
Last night I saw a movie called PT 109
It showed John Fitzgerald Kennedy and twelve other men on board
Patrolling in enemy waters their vessel was struck in the night
Leaving thirteen men on a sinking ship; Oh, what a terrible sight
They were adrift on the water; Lost at sea, they were
Death seemed near, Hope turned to fear for the men of the 109
There are people dying everyday; I remembered as I watched this show
Hundreds of thousands of human souls; either heaven or hell they will go
They are adrift on Life’s waters; Lost in a sea of despair
Because life without God and His Son is like having no life at all
Oh, who will go out to the water?
Who will cry out to the Father?
Lay down your life for others
Not just your sisters and brothers
©1999, Charles L Whetstone, All Rights Reserved
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