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Sandusky's PT 109 war hero

Tom Jackson • Jun 25, 2013 at 5:05 PM

If you know anything about World War II, you have probably heard about John F. Kennedy and PT-109. The future president's torpedo boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer in the middle of the night, and Kennedy's efforts to save the surviving crew helped make him a war hero.

What you may not know is that Kennedy's second in command, executive officer Leonard J. Thom, was from Sandusky. (I was tipped off about this by a caller who asked me not to use his name).

According to this account, Thom deserves some of the credit for saving the crew, although JFK's role got more play in the press. Thom married a woman from Youngstown, died in a 1946 car-train crash in Ohio, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown.

This account from Youngtown's newspaper, the Vindicator, seems to be missing the beginning part of the story, but it adds some details and reveals that JFK showed up for the funeral in Youngstown.

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