Unlike our modern day cowardly politicians, and blow hard media pundits who cheer every war opportunity without sacrificing anything, the Americans I'm profiling had fame and fortune. But they also believed they should contribute more to the cause. Not one of the three individuals profiled this weekend were drafted, or forced to abandon the charmed and comfortable lifestyles that would have been part of their future.
Yesterday I posted on Pat Tillman. Today's post is about Joseph Kennedy.
JOSEPH KENNEDY, JR.
The Joseph Kennedy, Jr. story is a unique one because of his family connections and wealth. His father, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., made a name for himself on Wall Street, and as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Ambassador to Britain. His accomplishments on Wall Street would compel Franklin D. Roosevelt to appoint him as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). His younger brother, John F. Kennedy, would become the 35th President of the United States.
A graduate of Harvard, Kennedy studied for a year at the London School of Economics before attending Harvard Law School. As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940, Kennedy was already fabulously rich as a young man. His father, as the story goes, gifted each of his kids $1 million (about $17 million today) early in life so they could tell the family (more specifically, the Dad) to go to hell if they wanted.
|Joe Kennedy, Jr., Joe Kennedy, Sr. and JFK.|
Joe Kennedy, Jr. voluntarily left Harvard before finishing his final year in law school to join the U.S. Navy in 1942. There he completed 25 combat missions, and volunteered for Operation Aphrodite weeks before his tour was up.
The mission he volunteered for can best be described as as a combination of modern drone warfare and kamikaze strategy. The U.S. military outfitted "tired" planes with explosives that weighed twice the payload weight authorized for a B-17 plane. Pilots were told to abandon their planes only when radio guidance was handed over to controllers. The plane Joe Kennedy, Jr. was flying blew up prematurely. He is officially listed as killed on a mission over England in 1944.