Monday 8 August 2022 05:55 PM Poignant moment Caroline Kennedy hugs the children of the men who saved JFK's ... trends now
The U.S. ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, has shared a touching moment with the children of two Solomon Islanders who had saved the life of her father and U.S. President John F. Kennedy during World War II.
Ms Kennedy traveled to the islands' capital city Honiara last week as part of an American diplomatic visit to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The series of brutal clashes between allied and Japanese forces in the South Pacific in 1942-1943 marked a significant turning point in the war, and John F. Kennedy was one of thousands of U.S. naval officers involved in the conflict.
In August 1943, a small patrol torpedo boat (PT-109) commanded by Kennedy was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and the entire crew were shipwrecked.
Despite serious injuries, Kennedy managed to drag his surviving crewmates ashore on a nearby Japanese-controlled island and was spared near certain death when, after a week of evading capture, the group were happened upon by Solomon Islanders Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa.
Kumana and Gasa, who were members of an allied military intelligence outfit known as the Coastwatchers, took possession of a coconut on which Kennedy had etched a short message detailing their predicament and duly delivered the message to allied command, leading to the miraculous rescue of all surviving members of the PT-109 crew.
Yesterday, Caroline met John Koloni, the son of Kumana, and Nelma Ane, the daughter of Gasa, at a ceremony more than 79 years on from the day her father was saved.
The late president's daughter warmly embraced the pair before presenting them with a replica of the coconut shell which Kennedy had shrewdly used to convey his crew's plight.
Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Australia, hugs John Koloni, the son of Eroni Kumana, who helped rescue her father, JFK, during the second world war
Caroline Kennedy, the United States ambassador to Australia, meets with John Koloni and Nelma Ane at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the battle of Guadalcanal
The crew of Patrol Torpedo boat PT-109, including U.S. Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy (R), are seen off Guadalcanal, in this handout image taken in July 1943
Despite serious injuries sustained in the shipwreck, Kennedy (pictured during his days as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy) managed to drag his surviving crewmates ashore on a nearby Japanese-controlled island and was spared near certain death by a pair of Solomon Islanders
Kennedy reportedly told Koloni and Ane she was 'so grateful' to meet them at the heart-warming ceremony, according to New Zealand's 1News, and added that she would like to bring her own kids to the island in the future to 'continue the relationship'.
She added: 'Countless Americans and allied families have Solomon Islanders to thank for their survival,' amid the commemoration proceedings.
Koloni responded: 'I'm honoured and proud of my dad, and I'm