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Buku Gasa and Eroni Kumana
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Military Personnel
    Born in Western Province, Solomon Islands
    Buku Gasa (July 27, 1923-November 23, 2005)
    Eroni Kumana (1925-August 2, 2014)
    Scouts serving under Australian coastwatcher Arthur Evans
    Found John F. Kennedy and the surviving crew members of PT-109 (August 8, 1943)
    While searching for the PT-109 crew, they disobeyed orders by stopping to investigate a Japanese wreck, from which they took food and fuel.
    They initially mistook the crewmen for Japanese. (Gasa: 'All white people looked the same to me.')
    They spoke little English, making communication with the PT-109 crew difficult.
    They were invited to Kennedy's Presidential inauguration, but were prevented from attending by British officials.
    They took great risks, as natives caught working for the Allies were tortured and executed by the Japanese.
    Because the PT-109 crew lacked writing utensils, Gasa suggested they carve a message on the husk of a coconut.
    They rowed a dugout canoe 40 miles through hostile waters to deliver the message to the nearest Allied base.
    In gratitude, the Kennedy family contributed $5,000 to cost of building each of their houses.
    They received busts of JFK from nephew Max Kennedy when Max accompanied Robert Ballard's expedition to find the wreck of the PT-109 (2002).
    Kumana's house was destroyed in the 2007 tsunami, but he survived the storm.

Credit: C. Fishel


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