Two Men from Solomon Islands That Saved JFK

During the Second World War, the battles in the Pacific Theater involved the Solomon Islands and their inhabitants. The islanders were among many groups who joined the Allies in their fight against the Japanese. Two such islanders eventually came across John Kennedy, and saved him from a young death at the hands of the enemy. These two men from the Solomon Islands had a great respect for the man they saved, long before they knew he would grow to become one of the most beloved politicians in the United States.

One of these men, EroniKumana, recently passed away. Those who knew him were in awe of his spirit, claiming that even in the final years of his life he maintained a youthful spirit and a high level of optimism. They also describe him as incredibly humble. Residents around the Solomon Islands, including Kumana’s own grandson, say that the man had to be told what a major impact he had had on history when he saved Kennedy’s life. Kumana never described himself as a hero, no matter how many times other people might have chosen to label him as such.

Kumana became a hero on the second of August in 1943. JFK was part of a naval crew that was manning a PT boat as part of a small fleet assigned to keep Japanese transport ships away from the Solomon Islands. Kennedy’s crew suddenly found themselves left behind as many of the other boats ran out of torpedoes without sinking the enemy ships. They were rammed by a destroyer ship, and those who survived wound up on a deserted island.

They eventually swam to another island, hoping to increase their chances of being found. A trip to yet a third island ultimately paid off. Kennedy and one of his crewmates met EroniKumana and BiukuGasa, two men from the Solomon Islands who happened to be canoeing in the area. Kennedy and his crew were eternally thankful for the men. The men could not transport Kennedy and his crew, but they delivered a coconut on which Kennedy had written a message to Allied troops, ensuring that a rescue mission would commence, the BBC News reports.

Those two men from the Solomon Islands did not just save a handful of seamen from the United States Navy. Due to the message on the coconut, and his general heroism in helping to ensure his men would get home safe, Kennedy would eventually win the presidential election seventeen years later. Had it not been for the bravery and compassion of the locals from the Solomon Islands, then the rest of history might have been dramatically different.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE