Courtesy John F. Kennedy Library
At age 26, John F. Kennedy commanded PT 109 in the South Pacific. In the early hours of August 2, 1943, his boat was patrolling the Solomon Islands on a mission to disrupt Japanese ship traffic. Around 2:30 a.m., the Japanese destroyer Amagiri loomed out of the darkness and slammed into Kennedy's boat, igniting a fireball and killing two crewmen. Kennedy and the remaining ten survivors were rescued six days later, thanks in large part to JFK's extraordinary efforts on behalf of his men. He later received the United States Navy and Marine Corps Medal for bravery as well as a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during the collision and the ordeal that followed.