Thursday, June 12, 2014



Solomon Islands (JFK+50) Seventy years ago today, June 12, 1944, Lieutenant j.g. John F. Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart.

The medals were given in honor of his courage and leadership after his patrol boat, the PT109, was rammed and set on fire by a Japanese destroyer near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Two of Lt. Kennedy's thirteen man crew were killed instantly and many of the survivors injured.  

Despite suffering an injury to his back, JFK directed his sailors back aboard the crippled boat and then engineered a swim to a nearby island.

One of the crew, Pappy McMahon, was so badly burned, JFK had to personally tow him using the strap of a life preserver in his teeth.

For six days and nights the crew waited to be rescued.  

Finally, the young Lieutenant was able to carve a message on a coconut, give it to some natives who, by way of coastwatchers, got it back to Navy headquarters.

The Navy and Marine Corps medal reads...

"for courage, endurance and excellent keeping with the highest traditions of the US Naval Service."

Navy and Marine Corps Medal


Jackson, Mississippi (JFK+50) Medgar Evers*, President of the Mississippi State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was shot and killed 51 years ago today, June 12, 1963.

In his role as NAACP Field Secretary, Medgar Evers had the responsibility of...

 "registering blacks to vote, fighting the white store owners who...discriminated against blacks, and ending the barriers that denied blacks in Mississippi equality in education."

Medgar Evers, having attended a long meeting on Tuesday, June 11th,  pulled into the driveway of his home in Jackson just after midnight on Wednesday, June 12, 1963.

As he was carrying some NAACP T Shirts which read "JIM CROW MUST GO," he was shot in the back with an ENFIELD 1917 rifle.  The bullet entered just below the right shoulder blade, passed through his body and entered his home.

Medgar's wife, Myrtle, and their children hit the floor at the sound of the shot.

To her horror, Myrtle Evers opened her front door only to find her husband dying at her feet.  He had crawled from the driveway to the front door.

Myrtle Evers later said...

"I don't think I ever hated as much in my life as I did at that moment."

Medgar Evers was rushed to University Hospital in Jackson where he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the shooting.

The day after her husband was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Myrtle Evers and her children were invited to the White House where they met President John F. Kennedy.

"The assassination of Medgar Evers rocked a nation already reeling from the power and expanse of the civil rights movement."


"We Shall Overcome," by Herb Boyd, Sourcebooks, Inc, Naperville, Illinois, 2004.

Folk singer/songwriter BOB DYLAN memorialized Medgar Evers in his song "Only a Pawn in Their Game."

"Today Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
 They lowered him down as a king
 But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
 That fired the gun.
 He'll see by his grave
 On the stone that remains
 Carved next to his name
 His epitaph plain
 Only a pawn in their game."

Grave of Medgar Evers
Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Willjay (2008)

*Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963) was born in Decatur, Mississippi.  He served in the US Army during WWII and graduated from Alcorn A&M College in 1952. He became Field Secretary of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP in 1954.