The John F. Kennedy celebrity doll is a GI Joe portraying him as PT 109 Commander in the Navy. Hasbro made the doll in 2000 and even included a replica of his rescue message on a coconut husk. Kennedy kept the original husk on his desk throughout his 35th Presidency.
The heroic saga of JFK and the PT 109 is printed on the back of the box. From the box the doll’s ” equipment list includes: Tropical issue khaki trousers, Jacket, Sunglasses, Utility cap, K-Bar knife and sheath, .38 cal. pistol and holster, Web belt, Operations map, Miniature replica of the coconut husk, Boots, Navy dog tags.” The doll has typical GI Joe body features including hands for holding accessories and extra large feet to help the doll balance on its own.
From the box:
JOHN F. KENNEDY: PT 109 BOAT COMMANDER
It was an epic time that has often been called the ‘American Camelot’. The presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy brought the leadership of a charismatic young Chief Executive to an America in the midst of one of the most turbulent eras. An amazing man in every regard, everything about him seemed to fit the American self-image. He was intelligent, warm, and unwavering in his defense of American principles. He was destined for greatness and for many, he was a national hero. However, few Americans knew that John F. Kennedy was a hero long before he was a president.
It is not uncommon for American Presidents to first prove their leadership abilities on the battlefield. However, few have displayed the valor and the total lack of concern for personal safety demonstrated by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy enlisted in the Navy in 1941, He was appointed Ensign in the Naval Reserve and received training as a PT Boat officer. By 1943, he was in the Pacific commanding his own PT Boat – the 109. In retrospect, it was a very dangerous assignment to have. In 1943, PT Boats were not very powerful fighting ships. They were constructed of plywood and lacked armor. Since most boasts were not equipped with radar, night attacks were extremely difficult. Overall, PT Boats were a poor match for destroyers and other heavily armed warships. Such a contest was a PT Skipper’s worst nightmare.
On a pitch-black night of August 2nd, Kennedy’s worst nightmare came true.
He and his crew sailed into the Blackett Strait to disrupt enemy shipping. With no radar and forced to observe strict radio silence, Kennedy maneuvered blindly through the pass. In the early morning hours, the 109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The impact killed two men instantly and ripped a gaping hole in the 109’s starboard side. For hours, Kennedy and ten surviving crewmembers clung to the floating wreckage and waited to be rescued. But no rescue came and the young lieutenant made the first of many decisions that would ultimately save the lives of his men. Swimming through shark-infested waters, he led his crew on a grueling three-mile swim to a nearby island. Most of the crew clung to a wooden plank from the wreckage as they kick stroked their way to the island. One crewman, however, was too badly wounded to survive the trip without help. Clenching a strap of the injured man’s life jacket in his teeth, Kennedy swam the breaststroke through the water, towing the wounded sailor to the island.
Here they remained, with no food or water until August 4rh when they decided to swim over a mile to a larger island, nearer to the heavily trafficked Ferguson Passage. The men were deep in enemy territory and growing weaker by the day—time was running out for the crew of the PT 109. Again, Kennedy took decisive action. He swam south, from island to island, hoping to spot passing PT Boats. It was on one of these islands that the young officer found two native scouts who worked with an Allied coast watcher. Kennedy carved a famous message into a coconut shell: “NAURO ISL…COMMANDER…NATIVE KNOWS POSIT…HE CAN PILOT..11 ALIVE…NEED SMALL BOAT…KENNEDY.” The message was delivered and on Saturday, August 7, the coast watcher replied by sending eight natives, a message and a large canoe to rescue Kennedy. All day the canoe passed through Japanese patrolled waters as Kennedy concealed himself under palm fronds. Once he reached safety, he helped lead a rescue mission to pick up his men in enemy held territory. Under the cover of darkness Kennedy guided a rescue boat to the small island where his men were waiting. By Sunday August 8, Kennedy and the survivors of PT 109 had safely returned to the Allied vase from which they set out one week earlier. Kennedy received the U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Medal in recognition of his courage, endurance, and leadership.
The heroic saga of John F. Kennedy and the PT108 proves that one man can make a difference. Kennedy held on to the inscribed coconut husk throughout his Presidency, keeping it on his White House desk. It is now on display at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “John F. Kennedy: PT109 Boat Commander” will benefit the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the nation’s official memorial to President Kennedy. The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported , in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of America’s political and cultural heritage, the process of governing and the importance of public service.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the doll went to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the national archive and memorial to President John F. Kennedy.
The museum also has the talking Toypresidents version of the John F. Kennedy action figure as well as his wife and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.