But he learns the limits of a President’s powers.
Kennedy’s naval service and heroism in World War II were legendary, and his actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of his boat, PT?109, made him a war hero. Articles were written about the incident and television dramatized it, and this attention proved helpful in his political rise to...
Kennedy’s naval service and heroism in World War II were legendary, and his actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of his boat, PT?109, made him a war hero. Articles were written about the incident and television dramatized it, and this attention proved helpful in his political rise to prominence. During the time he was in the Pacific Theater, the commander of U.S. Army Forces (and overall U.S. commander) there was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and Chester Nimitz was commander of all Navy forces (and thus JFK’s own superior officer). These men had led U.S. armed forces to victory in a very difficult war, and as President, Kennedy sought to honor them.
Memorandum Signed on White House letterhead, with a very uncommon holograph addendum, Washington, April 3, 1963, to Clifton. “I?am now planning to name one of the three new Polaris submarines for General MacArthur, one for Admiral Nimitz and the other one for Simon Bolivar. When this proposal has been cleared, would you make sure that we notify Amberg in advance.” He has noted underneath in his own hand “Taz?Shepard is getting this cleared with the Navy.” Shepard was Naval Aide to the President Commander Tazewell Shepard. The third sub being named after the liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar, was very much in keeping with JFK’s outreach to that area, in what is known as the Alliance For Progress.
This seems like a simple request, but an accompanying document shows otherwise. It states, in a note signed in type by J.G. Hays, April 11, 1963. “Memo for the Record. The Navy Department advises that vessels are not named after living people. [MacArthur and Nimitz were then still living]. Consequently, the next three Polaris subs will be named after Benjamin Franklin, Simon Bolivar and Kamehameha [a pre-U.S. annexation King of Hawaii].
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