Made famous by her final commanding officer, John F. Kennedy, PT-109 is one of the most celebrated naval vessels in American history. Behind the familiar account of the future president and the boat’s violent demise is its little-known record under two previous officers during the swirling battles around Guadalcanal. In these battles, America’s small, fast-boat flotillas would sally out to probe the Imperial Japanese Navy’s strength, vying with opposing destroyers whose larger armaments were able to blast a PT boat to pieces. It was a constant hit-and-run and dodging between searchlights across Iron Bottom Sound as the PT boats darted in among the enemy convoys, like a “bar-room brawl with the lights turned out.” The actions of commanders Bryant Larson and Rollin Westholm with PT-109 and its crew hold second to none in the chronicles of US Navy daring. They battled against the Japanese troop-carrying barges and stealthy seaplanes trying to catch the PT boats’ wakes from above in this most deadly game of hide-and-seek. Under its third and final commander, John F. Kennedy, PT-109 met its end as a Japanese destroyer suddenly emerged from a dark mist and rammed it in half. Kennedy was able to shepherd his crewmen to refuge, only losing two men. His unsurpassed gallantry and perseverance can not resist retelling. Book jacket.