Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lt. Cmdr. Ted Robinson tells of JFK's World War II heroism

World War II vets share their stories

Robinson railed against what he calls a series of "Mommy Dearest books" accusing Kennedy of being "a bum or a coward" during his service in World War II.
Rather, Kennedy was known among the men he served with as a courageous hero, Robinson said. On Aug. 1, 1943, Kennedy's patrol torpedo boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, spilling thousands of gallons of high-octane fuel to ignite on the water's surface. Many men were killed and others fell into the flames badly wounded. Kennedy was at the wheel.
"He dove into the water, into the flaming gasoline, and dragged his men out one at a time back to the hull," Robinson said. As the crew tried to make its way from the wreckage of their ship to the nearest island, Robinson added, Kennedy took one of the most badly wounded men, hoisted the man onto his back and held the strap of the man's life jacket in his teeth. Badly burned, his own back nearly broken in the explosion, Kennedy single-handedly swam the man two miles to shore.
Robinson's claim to fame is that it was his ship that rescued Kennedy and his men from the island.
"Kennedy always said courage was the most important word in the English dictionary," Robinson said. That courage, and the courage of each veteran's service, spurred the crowd of more than 100 people to their feet in standing ovation when the speech was done.

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