Second, Kennedy was pushed relentlessly by the media in a day prior to the public being aware of media manipulation. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were selected for their roles on the Dick Van Dyke show partially because of their similarity in appearance to the Kennedys. McHale's Navy and the movie "They Were Expendable" were created because of the PT 109 experience of Kennedy.
The John Kennedy PT 109 experience was a microcosm of his life. He was originally refused the command because of his sexual involvement with a possible spy and his health. After obtaining the command due to his father's political influence, he was in command for less than three months, two of which were spent refitting the boat before it was destroyed in combat. The investigation into the loss did not reach a conclusion, which is extremely unusual for a ship loss. The navy never considers losing a vessel to be a good thing, but the press hailed Kennedy as a hero.
He ventured into combat when he could have easily avoided it, and took an extremely dangerous assignment. He may not have been particularly competent, but he was there. Through all the Camelot hype, and equally important, those who detest him, there was a real man. Like Lincoln, the true John Kennedy will never really be known.
Clearly the most over-rated President if you consider what he actually accomplished vs. how highly he is rated. He gave some inspiring speeches and avoided going to war with the Soviet Union over the missiles in Cuba, but there is not a lot else. Perhaps the moon landing happened sooner than it would have if he had not decided to make it a goal to get there before the end of the 1960s.
Actually not so. the film ‘They Were Expendable’ was based on a book of the same name by journalist William White. The book was released in 1942, I think and deals with Buckley's PT Boat squadron in the Philippines after Dec 7. The film is remarkable for the sober and realistic way it treats the subject. Probably because it was released in 1945 when it was obvious the war was won. The men of the PT boats squadron are shown doing their best against a more numerous and better armed enemy. Their triumphs are few and realistically consist of attacking Japanese motor supply barges and troop carriers. In the end two officers are picked to be airlifted to Australia (They arrive just as the B-17 is running up its engines and bump an older LTC. He asks if they will mail his wife a letter if they get out. That is just one of the touches of understated but rather (For Hollywood) profound realism the film contains) At the end of the film as the credits run up the survivors of the unit are seen straggling down the beach on Luzon towards an unknown but probably not good fate. It is night the stars shine in the tropic sky and the survivors say nothing. The music of ‘The battle Hymn of the Republic” is played perhaps to offset the tale of defeat or more as a reminder of the cost of defending the Republic . The stoic heroism this film reflects really hit me when I first saw it on TV and several times after during the Viet Nam era. To me it was just one more chapter in the history of heroism and sacrifice by US armed forces in the distant pacific. Same as Korea, same as Bataan and now a gain in Viet Nam.
Richard Kimball said:
McHale’s Navy and the movie “They Were Expendable” were created because of the PT 109 experience of Kennedy.
Being a kid during the 1960s, I don’t remember ‘They Were Expendable’ being played any more often than other war films on local prime-time TV. Though with the passage of time, I’ve come to appreciate the film as an under rated gem.
Explain to me how a John Ford film from 1945 was ‘created’ to fit Kennedy’s PT 109 experience?
I may buy off Jimmy Dean’s song ‘PT 109’ while Kennedy was campaigning, but a comedic television series from 1964, whose express purpose was naval recruitment seems a bit of a stretch.
Also, would someone explain to me how a Lieutenant jg manages to put his boat bow athwart of a Japanese destroyer?
Just my two cents.