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PT 103 Class
Elco 80'

56 Tons
80' x 20' 8" x 3' 6"
37mm cannon (added)
20mm cannon (aft)
2 x Twin .50 cal MG
4 x 21" Torpedoes

Click For Enlargement
USN 1943
Captain  Lt(jg) John Fitzgerald Kennedy (rescued)
Crew  Ensign Leonard Thom (rescued) Sandusky, OH
Crew  Seaman 2nd Class Raymond Albert (rescued) Akron, OH
Radio  John McGuire (rescued)
Gunner  Raymond Starkey (rescued) CA
Gunner  MOMM2c Harold W. Marney, 2127352 (MIA / KIA) Chiopee, MA
Crew  TM2C Andrew John Kirksey, 6366765 (MIA / KIA) GA
Crew  Gerald Zinser (rescued)
Crew  William Johnson (rescued)
Crew  Charles Harris (rescued)
Crew  Patrick "Pappy" McMahon (rescued)
37mm  Ensign George Ross (rescued)
Sunk  August 2, 1943 at 1:30am

Ship History
Built by Elco at Bayonne, New Jersey as the seventh PT boat built built by Elco in Bayonne, NJ. Laid down March 4, 1942 . Launched June 20, 1942. On July 10, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PT-109. Completed July 19, 1942.

On September 22, 1942 assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Five (MTBRon 5) under the command of Lt. George A. Brackett. Operated from the Panama Canal zone until early 1943.

Assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Two (MTBRon 2) and loaded as deck cargo aboard USS Joseph Stanton and transported across the Pacific Ocean to Noumea then towed to Guadalcanal. During April 1943 assigned to Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy.

Sinking History
On August 1, 1943 at 4:00pm departed Rendova Harbor under the command of Lt(jg) Lt(jg) John F. Kennedy as one of fifteen PT-Boats on an overnight patrol of the Blackett Strait off Kolombangara. Division B included PT-109, PT-157, PT-159 and PT-162. Meanwhile, Japanese destroyers of the "Tokyo Express" including Amagiri made an overnight run to Vila on Kolombangara delivering soldiers and supplies. After completing their mission, the destroyers departed bound for Rabaul.

On August 2, 1943 at 1:30am while motoring in the Blacket Strait, PT-109 was rammed by Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The collision sank PT-109, splitting the vessel into two pieces. Two of the crew Marney and Kirksey went Missing In Action (MIA) during the collision. McMahon was wounded in the collision.

Fates of the Crew
The crew of PT-109 clung to the wreckage of the bow. At dawn the remaining crew swam to Plum Pudding Island while Kennedy towed McMahon who was wounded by his life vest strap in his teeth. Several days passed and the men then swam southward to Nauro Island. Meanwhile, the sinking had been observed by coastwatcher 'Reg' Evans, who sent two of his Solomon Island scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana to search for any survivors. Finding Kennedy, he scratched into a coconut shell, that was delivered to Evans. The surviving crew were rescued by PT-157 and transported the crew to Rendova.

Marney was officially declared dead on August 2, 1943. Kirksey was officially declared dead on August 3, 1944. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Both also have memorial markers at Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery Kirksey at section M1, row C, site 58. Marney at section M1, row C, site 54.

During May 2002, Robert Ballard with Odyssey Enterprises for National Geographic searched for this shipwreck in the Blacket Straight. At 1,200' (360m) a piece of wreckage was identified as a torpedo tube from a PT-Boat, and claimed to be from PT-109. Later, their findings were confirmed as "most likely" PT-109 by the USN.

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold W. Marney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew J. Kirksey
FIndAGrave - Harold William Marney (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Harold William Marney (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Andrew Jackson Kirksey (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Andrew Jackson Kirksey (memorial marker photo)
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 57, 95, 101, 103, 120, 123-125, 452, 456, 486, 488, 561 (index)
National Geographic "The Search For Kennedy's PT 109 (video)
Collision With History: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109
National Geographic "JFK's PT-109 Found, U.S. Navy Confirms" July 11, 2002
National Geographic PT Boat torpedo tube (photo)
Navy Source - PT-109

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Last Updated
December 27, 2018


2 Missing
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