Friday, July 25, 2014



Hull, Massachusetts (JFK+50) 99 years ago today, July 25, 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy announced the birth of their first child, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.*

Joe Junior was delivered by Kennedy family doctor Frederick L. Good in a rented cottage on Atlantic Avenue in Nantasket**.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
John F. Kennedy Library Photo

Having graduated from Harvard in 1938, Joe Jr. became a naval aviator in World War II.  Joe Jr. was said to be...

"such a courageous and skilled flier that even after completing his designated number of missions...volunteered to fly bombing runs during the D Day invasion."

Joe was scheduled to return home on leave, but instead volunteered for a special assignment known as Operation Aphrodite.

The target was to be the Nazi fortress in northern France known as Mimoyecques, a V-3 site designed by Hitler's architect Albert Speer.

 Map by Prioryman 

The installation, when completed, would house 25 cannons, each 420 feet in length.  They were designed to reach London 95 miles away.

Joe, Jr. and co-pilot/radio control technician, Lt. Wilford John Willy, took off from the RAF station at Fersfield at 5:59 p.m. on August 12, 1944 in a B-24 Liberator PB4Y loaded with 21,150 pounds of explosives packaged in 347 boxes.

 B24 Liberator Bomber
 USAF Photo

After the B-24 was in position at 2000 feet, Joe Jr. radioed that everything was o.k. Lt. Willy then switched on the TV camera in the nose of the B-24 which was to guide the plane, but two minutes later it exploded.

The remains of Joe Jr. and Lt. Willy were never found, and the wreckage of the B-24 was scattered over an area 3 miles x 2 miles.

In 1945, "As We Remember Joe," a book of remembrances for Kennedy family, friends and associates, was published.  The book included a forward by brother Jack along with his essay titled "My Brother Joe."


"Lt. Joe Kennedy," by Trevor Jermy, edited by Lester Curtis, Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum,

"Top Secret Drone Mission That Killed Joseph Kennedy, Jr." by Ed Grabianowski, February 21, 2013,

"What if Joseph Kennedy, Jr. had not died on WWII mission?," by Jagdtigerl,

*Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (1915-1944) graduated from Harvard in 1938.  He studied at the London School of Economics and was a delegate to the 1940 Democratic Convention.  Joe joined the US Navy earning his wings as a naval aviator in May 1942.  He completed 25 combat missions before volunteering for the one that took his life.

**Nantasket Beach, located in Hull, Massachusetts, is one of the busiest beaches in the Boston area.  Its name is derived from the Wampanoag word meaning "where the tides meet."  

Nantasket Beach (1910)