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Poignant moment Caroline Kennedy hugs the children of the men who saved JFK’s life in WWII

US Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy shared a touching moment with the children of two Solomon Islanders who saved the lives of her father and US President John F. Kennedy during World War II.

Kennedy traveled to the island’s capital, Honiara, last week as part of a US diplomatic visit to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The series of brutal clashes between Allied and Japanese forces in the South Pacific in 1942-1943 marked a major turning point in the war, and John F. Kennedy was one of thousands of U.S. naval officers involved in the conflict.

In August 1943, a small patrol torpedo boat (PT-109) commanded by Kennedy was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and the entire crew was shipwrecked.

Despite serious injuries, Kennedy managed to drag his surviving crew ashore on a nearby Japanese-controlled island and was killed was almost spared certain death when, after a week of evading capture, the group was ambushed by Solomon Islanders Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa.

Kumana and Gasa, who were members of an Allied military intelligence agency known as the Coastwatchers, took possession of a coconut on which Kennedy etched a short message describing their predicament and duly relayed the message to Allied command, which led to the miraculous salvation of all. surviving members of the PT-109 crew.

Yesterday Caroline met John Koloni, Kumana’s son, and Nelma Ane, Gasa’s daughter, in a ceremony more than 79 years after the day her father was rescued.

The late president’s daughter hugged the couple warmly before handing them a replica of the coconut shell that Kennedy had cleverly used to convey the plight of his crew.

Caroline Kennedy, US Ambassador to Australia, hugs John Koloni, son of Eroni Kumana, who helped save her father, JFK, during World War II

Caroline Kennedy, US Ambassador to Australia, hugs John Koloni, son of Eroni Kumana, who helped save her father, JFK, during World War II

United States Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy meets John Koloni and Nelma Ane at an 80th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Guadalcanal

United States Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy meets John Koloni and Nelma Ane at an 80th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Guadalcanal

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The crew of the patrol torpedo boat PT-109, including US Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy (R), can be seen off the coast of Guadalcanal, in this photo, taken in July 1943

Despite serious injuries sustained in the shipwreck, Kennedy (pictured during his days as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy) managed to drag his surviving crewmen ashore on a nearby Japanese-controlled island and was almost spared certain death by a pair of Solomon Islanders.

Despite serious injuries sustained in the shipwreck, Kennedy (pictured during his days as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy) managed to drag his surviving crewmen ashore on a nearby Japanese-controlled island and was almost spared certain death by a pair of Solomon Islanders.

Kennedy reportedly told Koloni and Ane she was “so grateful” to meet them at the heartwarming ceremony, according to New Zealand’s 1News, adding that she would like to bring her own children to the island in the future to ” continue the relationship.”

She added: “Numerous Americans and allied families owe the Solomon Islands residents for their survival,” amid the memorial proceedings.

Koloni replied, “I am honored and proud of my father, and I am happy to receive on his behalf. I wish he was here to receive this medal.” stuff.

But the heroic actions of Kumana and Gasa, who helped rescue Kennedy and 10 other U.S. naval officers, were largely forgotten in the post-war years.

The pair received no credit for their involvement in saving Kennedy’s life and protecting his crew from Japanese forces, and were even prevented from attending his presidential inauguration.

Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States in January 1961 and had invited his rescuers to witness the event, but officials in the Solomon Islands, then under British administration as a British protectorate, banned them from attending. and sent a few white representatives instead.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was not present at the commemoration of the Battle of Guadalcanal, much to the dismay of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who attended the ceremony alongside Kennedy.

The Solomon Star News said Sogavare would deliver a speech at the memorial service on Sunday, which was also attended by ministers and officials from Japan, Australia and New Zealand, but he failed to show up.

Sherman told a news conference that Sogavare was on the printed schedule for the ceremony, and when she met him later in the day, she told him she was sorry he wasn’t there.

“The real sadness here is that I think he missed a real opportunity to remember how strong these bonds were 80 years ago that made freedom possible here in the Solomon Islands,” she told reporters, according to a transcript released Monday.

John F Kennedy is pictured giving a speech in 1960, three years before his assassination

John F Kennedy is pictured giving a speech in 1960, three years before his assassination

John F. Kennedy is pictured relaxing with his wife Jacqueline and daughter Caroline before becoming President of the United States

John F. Kennedy is pictured relaxing with his wife Jacqueline and daughter Caroline before becoming President of the United States

This handout photo, taken on August 8, 2022 and released by the United States Department of State, shows U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman laying a wreath as she attends a government-organized memorial on Bloody Ridge in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. (Caroline Kennedy is also pictured) )

This handout photo, taken on August 8, 2022 and released by the United States Department of State, shows U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman laying a wreath as she attends a government-organized memorial on Bloody Ridge in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. (Caroline Kennedy is also pictured) )

This photo, taken on August 7, 2022, shows US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman posing for photos with Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare (R) after an 80th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Guadalcanal at Skyline Ridge in Honiara, Solomon Islands

This photo, taken on August 7, 2022, shows US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman posing for photos with Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare (R) after an 80th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Guadalcanal at Skyline Ridge in Honiara, Solomon Islands

Sherman added that her meeting with Sogavare later on Sunday was broad and “very bold,” and that she had expressed US concerns about his administration’s security pact with China amid a recent escalation of tensions following the president’s visit. of the US House, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan.

Honiara and Beijing have denied that the pact allows a military base.

In a televised interview on Monday, Sherman said Sogavare had reiterated his assurances that there would be no Chinese base, but that the US and other Pacific countries would “all be watching closely to see what’s happening here.”

“It’s the Pacific Island Forum, other countries that care deeply about not having a Chinese military base because that would pose a potential threat to all the islands in the Pacific,” she told ABC’s 7:30 Report program.

Sogavare “will have to account to his own citizens for making the choice” not to attend the Guadalcanal ceremony, she added.

Sherman joined Kennedy and praised the Solomon Islanders’ role in their association with the United States during World War II.

Solomon Islands ministers had represented the government at World War II ceremonies, a statement from Sogavare’s office said.

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