The Search for Kennedy's PT 109
National Geographic Joins Dr. Robert Ballard in Search Of
John F. Kennedy's Lost WWII Torpedo Boat
Available on DVD and VHS on December 17, 2002
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- This December, National Geographic Home Video (NGHV) releases "The Search for Kennedy's PT 109," the exclusive behind- the-scenes story of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Robert Ballard's quest to find John F. Kennedy's PT 109 in the South Pacific. The one-hour program, which first aired on MSNBC in November as a National Geographic EXPLORER special presentation, also tells the amazing tale of Kennedy's leadership and courage as he struggled to save his shipwrecked crew caught in enemy territory during World War II. The new NGHV title will be available on Tuesday, December 17 at the suggested retail prices of $14.95 for VHS and $19.98 for DVD. Included in "The Search for Kennedy's PT 109" are rare, in-depth interviews with the two now 80 year-old Solomon Islanders who rescued Kennedy. Joining the National Geographic expedition is Kennedy's nephew, Maxwell Kennedy, who conveys a special emotional message from his family to the two rescuers. "What happened to PT 109 was one of the pivotal moments in Kennedy's life," Ballard said. "It was a rite of passage for him -- this clearly was a moment of growing up. PT 109 provides an opportunity to tell JFK's personal story of entering the war as little more than a boy and then emerging as a future president." Best known for his discoveries of the RMS Titanic, Bismarck and USS Yorktown, Ballard and his team spent several days searching a five- by seven- mile grid in the Solomon Islands' Blackett Strait, using side-scan sonar technology to locate underwater targets that could be PT 109. At the most promising site, unmanned vehicles equipped with high-definition video cameras, including a small remotely operated vehicle called Little Hercules, were deployed. Images sent back to the expedition ship revealed what experts identified as a Mark 18 torpedo tube -- the type used on U.S. Navy patrol torpedo (PT) boats -- and a World War II-vintage Mark 8 torpedo, buried amongst giant underwater sand dunes some 1,300 feet below the surface. Also partially visible was the hand-operated "training gear" used to manually aim the torpedo. "The Search for Kennedy's PT 109" recalls the predawn hours of Aug. 2, 1943, when the Japanese destroyer Amagiri rammed Kennedy's PT 109 in the waters of the Solomon Islands, killing two sailors and slicing the boat in two. Kennedy and the 10 surviving members of his crew floated on the badly damaged hulk until daybreak and then swam some four miles to Plum Pudding Island. Deep in Japanese territory, the American sailors subsisted mainly on coconuts for nearly a week before being rescued. Pushing beyond human limits, Kennedy swam to two other nearby islands looking for help before being discovered by local scouts working with the Allies. The ordeal earned Kennedy the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for bravery in action and contributed to the charismatic aura that envelops him even today. "Finding PT 109 is especially meaningful to the members of my family," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, "but we also believe it represents the story of all the brave young men who fought with such courage in the South Pacific to ensure victory during World War II." The DVD will include a bonus feature about another little-known part of WWII in the Pacific. National Geographic's "War Code: Navajo" reports on the young Navajo Marines who used their language to transmit vital military information at the infamous battle for Iwo Jima. An oral language of great linguistic complexity, Navajo proved to be one code the Japanese couldn't break -- a vital key to the U.S.'s victory there. National Geographic Home Video titles are distributed by Warner Home Video (WHV), an AOL/Time Warner Company, operating in 57 countries including the US and Canada. WHV is one of the worlds leading suppliers of pre-recorded videocassettes and videodiscs and a market leader in family entertainment. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X33761262
SOURCE National Geographic Society
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