GREENVILLE, S.C. — The last surviving member of the crew that rescued John F. Kennedy from an island in the Pacific Ocean during World War II has died.
Guy Gardo said Jack Gardo died in his sleep at his Greenville home Wednesday. He was 87. The younger Gardo said his father had suffered from dementia for the past six years.
Jack Gardo’s PT-157 was sent to rescue the survivors of PT-109 after the patrol torpedo boat was rammed in the middle of the night by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands on Aug. 2, 1943. Two crew members were killed; Kennedy, who assumed command of the boat in April of that year, led the survivors to nearby islands until they could be rescued. Gardo had said he and his crew learned where the survivors were after a native islander arrived with a coconut on which Kennedy had scrawled their location.
Guy Gardo said his father joined the U.S. Navy at age 16 after he forged his father’s signature.
“You couldn’t ask for a better father than him,” Guy Gardo said. “He treated us like gold. I’m going to miss him.”
Among the survivors are Jack Gardo’s wife, Guynell; a daughter; and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral is scheduled for Monday.