A Story about Meeting the Commander of PT-109, as told to me

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(This story was provided to me by the son of a man who skippered an 85-foot Rescue Boat, an extended modification of the famous PT Boat. He was one of the early sponsors of this site, and goes only by the name “Proud American”.

(There were various sizes of Rescue Boats, the majority 63-footers. And only 2260 servicemen served, so a rare treat indeed to be able to remember this service. They are collectively remembered at US Crash Boats where also can be found the a history of the various boats, this 85-footer, ASR 85 Foot – Design 379, aka Type II, with only 140 put into service.)

His story:

My father later in WW2/Pacific, was a commander of a search & rescue squadron.  One piece of equipment that he spent quite a bit of time on was an 80 ft rescue boat. Similar to the PT boats that were famous in the Pacific only a bit longer, they had some enhancements to the engine compartment, namely a water injection system for added horsepower on a short term basis.  Anyway, one day my father was on his way out, and the port had a longer “no wake” zone.  As the boat was leaving he got to the narrow channel just a bit earlier than this PT.  Now the commander of the PT arrogantly pushed his throttle a little past the speed limit.  My father, as he tells it, was not going to swamped by this arrogant bastard, increasing his speed to maintain the lead, avoiding the wake.

To say the least the response from both was to continue this tit-for-tat. Both were way out of bounds on regulations at this point and Full Ahead!  Good ole dad, knowing he was going to face the wrath from the port commander, just couldn’t lose the race, and his last chance was to reach up and apply his water injection button.

He did win the race. The PT had to react and slowed down, to avoid going aground in the channel.  Of course he was called on the carpet for “Wilfull disregard” of regulations. But being the first boat out of the channel was his saving grace. That arrogant S*B from the PT was not going to be officially reprimanded, so neither was my dad.

With a chuckle, as my dad told me the story, everybody has to follow the rules, just make sure you’re winning when breaking the rules.  And during the dressing down that they both received, was the only time he would meet, in person, the commander of PT 109….

(My personal note: Stories like these are gems, and I searched the CrashBoats Crew List and not a Lt Commander Quentin McHale is listed.)



About the Author:

Vietnam era Army JAG, Asia, 17-yr Cold Warrior in Soviet-China Bloc green zone, Been shot at and hit, but in crime, not war; twice-broken nose for lying (same fellow) hence good law school candidate; Could have been Somebody in Corporate world and politics, but at every crossroad chose to be a man with a tawdry past instead. Gave up law and am now a redeemed American.
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  1. Allen  March 26, 2018


    “everybody has to follow the rules, just make sure you’re winning when breaking the rules”

    That is an immutable law of nature.

  2. X  April 28, 2018

    Did I miss something, or have you carefully avoided mentioning JFK?
    Found Veterans tales via https://pumabydesign001.com/author/bydesign001/
    I have three blogs, one dedicated to veterans; the title inspired by JFK’s book – Profiles In Courage.

    • Vassar  April 29, 2018

      We’d love to see your JFK story. Big fan of JFK here. I figure the father of the author of the prior story wasn’t. Just sign up as a contributor and add your post. We’ll take care of the rest. A pic would be nice. People my age can still vividly remember the cover.

      • X  April 29, 2018

        I was referring to being inspired by that title; I don’t have a JFK story. I’d been inspired to use that title for my afore-mentioned blog. Not having served, I don’t feel it appropriate to be a contributor, though I could sign up so as to post some offerings from Profiles In Courage, if you think that would be of value.
        One particular posting pertains to Ernie Pyle and an excerpt form his book Brave Men, in opposition to revisionist history portrayed by the video “Patton 360”.
        Please R.S.V.P.

        • Allen  May 1, 2018

          We’d enjoy seeing that!

          I had to go back and re-read the story to catch that JFK wasn’t mentioned. I missed it but for me actual naming wasn’t necessary. I am going to ask my son (34) who the commander of the PT109 was. There’s a line there somewhere and knowledge of that just ends.

          I’ve always been a Patton fan, I think your tale would be welcome here.

          • X  May 2, 2018

            Got the PC blues – When asked to login to submit content got this:
            ERROR: The password you entered for the email address 8blackhawks@charter.net is incorrect. Lost your password?
            So I tried to “reset password”; (had just established it but your site didn’t recognize it) then I kept getting:
            Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.
            then –
            Your password reset link appears to be invalid. Please request a new link below.
            Can you unravel this snafu?

          • Vassar  May 4, 2018

            You should be good to go- VB

  3. Vassar  May 2, 2018

    You’ll have an answer by the end of the day. Sorry


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