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

Dec 04, 2002, 00:00 ET from National Geographic Society

    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
     "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

SOURCE National Geographic Society