Collision with History: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109

Article excerpt

THE CAPTAIN'S LOCKER

COLLISION WITH HISTORY: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109

By Robert D. Ballard with Michael Hamilton Morgan 192 Ppgs profusely illustrated in color, 8.5" x 11", Hardback. ISBN: 0-- 7922-6876-8 - $30.00. National Geographic, Washington, D.C., www.nationalgeographic.com

Some might prefer to call Robert Ballard a sleuth - a detective who does his snooping in flippers and scuba gear rather than with a magnifying glass and a .357 magnum. After all, does this premier underwater explorer not solve puzzling mysteries of the deep with the glib panache of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe? Who else discovered the wreck of the long lost Titanic, the German sea raider Bismarck, and the American carrier Yorktown?

In the course of his long and distinguished career Robert Ballard has conducted more than 100 deep-sea explorations; in the process garnering 16 honorary degrees and seven military awards. Now, just released by National Geographic Books is a handsome fully illustrated report on Ballard's latest accomplishment - locating the wreck of President John F. Kennedy's ill-fated WWII torpedo boat.

Shortly after 2 am on 2 August 1943, a US patrol torpedo boat, PT 109, sank in the Solomon Sea after being struck by a Japanese destroyer. The commander of PT 109 was 26-- year-old Lt.j.g.) John F. Kennedy, and that incident set in motion a survival odyssey that became a cornerstone of the Kennedy legend and helped propel him to the White House. Forty years after JFK's death and nearly 60 years after Kennedy's first collision with history in the South Pacific, preeminent underwater explorer Robert D. …