Friday, August 5, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2031

 Solomon Islands (JFK+50) Seventy-three years ago today, August 5, 1943, Ensign George Barney Ross* made a half-mile swim from Olasana to Naru Island on the 4th day following the sinking of the PT 109.  While Lt. John F. Kennedy and Ross were making their way to Naru, the other survivors were "resting in the bushes behind the beach." 

Kennedy and Ross walked to the eastern side of Naru where they found a crate containing bags of "hard candy in the shape of teardrops" and crackers left by the Japanese.   They also found an abandoned dugout canoe in the bushes "with a large tin of rainwater" and also spotted a couple of natives who upon seeing them "paddled furiously away toward Blackett Strait."

The natives came to where the survivors were hiding.  After some reassurance that these men were not Japanese, the natives, Buiku and Eroni came ashore.

Leaving Ross behind on the beach, Lt. Kennedy took the canoe filled with candy and water back to his men. He was surprised when he saw the natives among his men and didn't recognize them as the ones he and Ross had seen earlier.

JFK left the candy and water with his men and headed the canoe back toward Naru to rejoin Barney Ross.  Although they attempted to take the canoe back into the Blackett Strait that night, the waves were too strong and they had to give up.  They returned to Naru exhausted and slept on the beach during the rest of the night. 

*George H.R. "Barney" Ross (1918-1983) was born in Michigan & raised in Ravinia, IL.  He graduated from Princeton University before joining the US Navy.  He held the rank of Ensign when he asked JFK to 'ship aboard' the PT109.

GBR received the Purple Heart & Navy & Marine Corps medals.  After WWII, he worked in the insurance business.  In 1960, he joined JFK's presidential campaign & was appointed to the President's Commission on Juvenile Delinquency & Youth Crime.  In 1964, he became a manpower specialist at the United Planning Organization.

NOTE:  Actor Robert Culp played the role of Ensign Barney Ross in the movie, PT 109.


"George Ross Dies," The Washington Post, July 26, 1983,

"PT 109: John F. Kennedy in WWII," by Robert J. Donovan, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1961, 2001.

"Solomon Islander who helped JFK dies at 93," AFP, August 4, 2014,

PC96 PT Boat Officers
Reed-JFK-Fay & Ross (back)
JFK Library Photo (1943)