From the desk of Jan Hommel, Museum Director:
Q: Which president became a navy commander despite his history of chronic health problems?
A: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. John F. Kennedy became a navy commander. This is kind of funny, because throughout his childhood this future president had nothing but health problems. The military is very selective about their standards for healthy men and women. Kennedy had a history of bronchitis, tonsillitis, appendicitis, scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough, Addison’s disease, back problems, abdominal pain, and fever…Whew! Somehow he got into the navy and earned his way to commander. Kennedy’s PT boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer with two of the crew members dying instantly. There were eleven survivors. Jack took one injured crewman’s life-vest strap in his teeth and swam for hours before they were rescued. He himself was injured in the ordeal and was given two medals for heroism and bravery. (The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia)