Saving Lieutenant Kennedy

The heroic story of the Australian who helped rescue JFK

Brett Mason
Buy Book

The incredible story of an Australian hero who helped save the life of a future president.

On a moonless night in August 1943, a US torpedo boat commanded by Lt John F Kennedy, on patrol in Solomon Islands, was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. Left clinging to wreckage within sight of Japanese encampments, the eleven surviving members of Kennedy’s crew eventually struggled ashore on a small uninhabited island. Missing, presumed dead, behind enemy lines, with no food or water, and with several injured, the future looked bleak for the shipwrecked Americans. Fortunately, Australian ‘coast watcher’ Lt Reg Evans witnessed the immediate aftermath of the collision from his nearby jungle hideaway. Working under the searching eye of the Japanese military, over the next five days Evans and two Solomon Islander scouts — Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa — located Kennedy and his crew and ensured their rescue.

This story of wartime bravery and survival helped create JFK’s legend and paved his way to the White House. It also shone a spotlight on Australia and America’s shared wartime experience. In Saving Lieutenant Kennedy, Brett Mason, author of Wizards of Oz, sets the heroic rescue and its colourful aftermath against the background of the Pacific war and the birth of the Australia–US alliance, which remains as vital today as when Kennedy and Evans first shook hands.

'A fascinating slice of military history.' — Jeff Popple, Canberra Weekly

'Saving Lieutenant Kennedy is a book that is equally interesting and entertaining. It can be highly recommended.' — Sabretache

Contributor Bio

Brett Mason is Chair of the Council of the National Library of Australia and Adjunct Professor in Law at the Queensland University of Technology. He was formerly Australia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. From 1999 to 2015 he was Senator for Queensland and served in the Howard and Abbott ministries. His most recent book is Wizards of Oz: How Oliphant and Florey helped win the war and shape the modern world (NewSouth).

More books by author