Ens Joseph Patrick “Joe” Kennedy Jr PB4Y Liberator Pilot, VB-110, England, Jan 1944

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3 responses

  1. noelani

    I am glad to find a place to comment on Joe Kennedy, Jr.. I have been watching the miniseries, again, and wondering about the accuracy of one part, and that is the suggestion that Joe was jealous of his brother, Jack, for having received the Navy and Marine Corps Cross, for bravery, when his PT boat was cut in half. The suggestion this made was that Joe had volunteered for an extremely dangerous mission, gambling with his life, in an attempt to one-up his brother, by receiving the Medal of Honor. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. It has been suggested that the Kennedys have always tended to take a lot of risks, and that that is partially responsible for the fact that so many of them have died well before their time.

    Whether his determination to continue flying dangerous missions, well beyond the time that he had earned the right to time off, had anything to do with a desire to become a bigger hero than his brother, no one can say for sure. I think it is well known that the Kennedys were very competitive with each other. However, it was not unusual for the pilots and crews of bombers based in England to be lost on bombing missions. Every one of them was well aware that they were risking death every time they headed out on a mission. What I think is that his primary motivation to volunteer for his final mission was primarily to serve his country, but that making his father proud, and working toward achieving the goals his father had for him was a large part, too. If he also had a thought of possibly one-uping his little brother, it wouldn’t have been unusual. With four sons, myself, I know that brotherly competition is pretty normal. But, I don’t think the suggestion made by the miniseries, that Joseph Kennedy, Jr. was driven by a less than good-hearted desire to compete with his brother is quite fair.

    As a mother who has lost an adult son, myself, I always think of Rose. Of course, the loss of her oldest child was only the first of many such losses in her life. She is an inspiration to me, and countless other mothers.

    November 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

  2. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. taught his children to win at everything they did, regardless of the costs. His children competed against each other and everyone else to please their father. Another factor was the contention that the Kennedys were “yellow.” Joe Senior evaded service during War War I and was much hated for his perceived appeasement of Hitler and the Axis powers during World War II. There were also stories of him running away from London to a country estate during bombing raids during the war.

    Joe Jr., the heir apparent, was combative by nature. He was the kind of guy who would push someone aside so that he could catch the ball. There are also stories of him picking fights in Harvard bars for sport. Having said that, he was also charming and good looking, much more like his father than Jack, who was funny and more congenial but less aggressive.

    Joe Jr. was the star of the family until he and Jack reached young adulthood. Jack published Why England Slept, gaining national attention. Then of course PT 109 occurred. Becoming a hero was very much a part of American culture in the 1940s. In my view, Joe Jr. volunteered because he was a patriotic and confident soldier, to become a hero for political purposes, to outperform his brother and to show bravery. I don’t think it was only PT-109. That was a factor but not the only one. Sibling rivalry is common but is not likely to rise to life-or-death decision making. I don’t think Joe Kennedy Sr. ever got over the death of his eldest, nor did he ever seem to waiver on his belief that his namesake should have been the politician in the family. Jr. had a gregariousness and confidence that politics required in the pre-TV and Internet era.

    Gordon Ovenshine

    December 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

  3. annette stampone

    joe was a hero and that is all there is to it. you tube has a great tribute which includes the song ‘london bombs’. and whatever happened to the girl with the blue eyes – the lost prince by hank searles. he did make a difference. he was the one who gave kick away in london when she married billy in london. read as we remember joe. that’s where he is. without all the stuff. he was a complicated good guy and he was a patriot who gave the last full measure of devotion to his country.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:11 am

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