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50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Half-Dollar
MILITARY SERVICE AND RISE TO PROMINENCE
The United States Mint enjoys a long and storied tradition of producing coins and medals honoring our military heroes and commemorating our military’s role in protecting our country.

Honored leaders and other subjects have ranged from the five-star generals, Infantry soldiers, and disabled American veterans to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, Nisei Soldiers, and Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.  The military and our dedicated service members are never far removed from the work of the United States Mint.

As we approach Memorial Day on May 26 and what would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 97th birthday on May 29, we shine the spotlight on his military service and early professional career-both of which played pivotal roles in his rise to prominence as one of the seminal political figures of his time.


John F. Kennedy on PT-109 boat.
Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in the South Pacific, 1943. Photo Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
World War II Service

Upon graduating from Harvard in 1940, the future President joined the Navy. In August 1943 he was commanding patrol torpedo (PT) boat 109 in the South Pacific near the Solomon Islands, one of 15 in the area on the lookout for Japanese boats. A Japanese destroyer rammed PT-109, and it was torn in two, with the 12 crew members falling in the water amidst the fire, two of whom were killed and one badly injured. Using a large board, they swam for shore for about three miles and reached land, with Kennedy pulling the injured soldier through the water using his teeth to hold the cord of the man’s life preserver. 

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