Lot 9002: John F. Kennedy 1944 Autograph Letter Signed
18th May 2017
Extremely rare World War II-dated ALS, one page, 7.75 x 10.25, Navy Department letterhead, April 17, 1944. Written while stationed at the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida, a letter to Francis E. Galline of Dorchester, Massachusetts, in full: "Thank you for your kindness in sending the travel books—and for the Easter Card. Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated." Kennedy adds "P[atrol] T[orpedo] Shakedown" above the letterhead in his own hand. Neatly matted and framed with a magazine article, a portrait of Kennedy as president, an engraved nameplate, and the original mailing envelope addressed entirely by Kennedy, who signs his name in the return address field, "Lt. J. F. Kennedy," to an overall size of 18 x 20.5. In fine condition. In the early morning of August 2, 1943, Lieutenant Kennedy’s PT-109 was struck by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in the Blackett Strait of the Solomon Islands. Following a miraculous 3.5-mile swim to shore, Kennedy and his ten surviving crew members were rescued from Olasana Island a full six days later. Kennedy returned to the United States in January 1944, and soon transferred to Miami’s Submarine Chaser Training Center for a period of three months, where he was assigned to shakedown detail—a period of training and equipment testing on new or reactivated Patrol Torpedo boats. Still ailing from a back injury, Kennedy entered the Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in May, and retired from the US Naval Reserve on physical disability less than a year later. Given its proximity to the PT-109 rescue—an event that aided greatly in Kennedy’s rise within the local and national political arena—this letter represents the final period in which Kennedy actively served and lived at a naval training base. War-dated letters from Kennedy remain exceedingly rare, with the presence of the naval letterhead and the mention of a patrol torpedo boat elevating its scarcity and desirability even further. Truly one of the very finest JFK-signed items we have ever offered.
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