Jimmy Dean / (Photo credit: Screen grabbed from Youtube)
Can you imagine a creepy incident turned into a song? Yes, it is possible! Just take a look at this military-themed single that was a major hit in the ‘60s. Entitled “P.T. 109,” the tune was penned by songwriters Marijohn Wilkin and Fred Burch. American country singer Jimmy Dean recorded the song on his album Portrait of Jimmy Dean. His biggest hit in 1962, “P.T. 109” tells about the combat service of former US president John F. Kennedy. In particular, this record aims to highlight JFK’s heroism during the World War II which later led him to the White House.
The song was Dean’s charting single peaking at No. 3 on the country chart. Its chart reign lasted for a total of thirteen weeks. Moreover, the single was a big crossover hit. It entered the pop chart at No. 8 while reaching No. 2 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.
The P.T. 109 and Its Manifold Stories
P.T. 109 is the name of the Motor Torpedo Boat that Kennedy commanded during the WWII. In August 1943, at the height of the second world war, a Japanese destroyer rammed and cut the boat in two. Despite the tragic event, Kennedy and most of his crew have survived. Two native inhabitants later rescued them after several days on a deserted island.
Such catastrophe has paved JFK’s road to secure a presidential seat in the White House. However, a huge portion of that political triumph was also influenced by his father. Joe Kennedy. The older Kennedy has exploited the P.T. 109 incident and used it as an essential campaign biography making JFK a certified action hero. Kennedy’s longtime campaign aid, Dave Power, stated in his new book following which directly links the former to the wrecked boat,
“Without PT 109 you have no President John F. Kennedy.”
In 1963, a year following the incident, producer Bryan Foy released a movie inspired by the disaster and featuring JFK’s valor. The movie was adapted by Richard L. Breen, Vincent Flaherty and Howard Sheehan from the book Robert J. Donovan entitled PT 109: John F. Kennedy in WWII. Leslie H. Martinson directed the film which stars Cliff Robertson, Ty Hardin, James Gregory, Robert Culp, and Robert Blake.
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Bryan Foy, Dave Power, Fred Burch, Jimmy Dean, Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Leslie H. Martinson, Marijohn Wilkin, P.T. 109