PT Boat vets hold last meeting


Fading memories of World War II — In December it was the Pearl Harbor Veterans who held their last planned reunion — too many of the vets wer too old to think many could comfortably travel to another reunion. This week, it’s the PT boat veterans who held their last planned gathering, for the same reasons. Those who have the most vivid memories of the war dwindle in number to a precious few.

According to the Associated Press in the Navy Times:

The 16 elderly survivors — down from 21 last year — of Peter Tare, Inc., an organization for former officers of PT boats, lined up next to the boat Friday, taking one last sail down memory lane.

For them, World War II is really almost over now.

“It’s sort of pitiful the way the crowd has dwindled,” said William Paynter, 90, who commanded both a PT boat and a squadron in the South Pacific.

“The executive secretary is just getting over a stroke and it seemed like the best time to do it,” he said of this past week’s reunion.

The group, which began meeting in 1947, has better than $25,000 in assets, Paynter said. Originally the plan was to turn the assets over to the sole survivor, but as the years passed, that seemed impractical.

Of course, there’s a story about “Peter Tare,” too: 

Peter Tare, so named for the phonetics used to designate letters in World War II — P, Peter; T, Tare — was formed for officers on the small boats used to harry the enemy during the war. The most famous members were former president John F. Kennedy and former Supreme Court justice Byron White.

After Kennedy was elected president, a book on his exploits made the best seller lists, and as I recall, was actually read by many of the people who bought it. The book and a National Geographic article were turned into a movie in 1963, PT-109, starring Cliff Robertson as a young, thinner Jack Kennedy. (Wikipedia says the VHS is out of print, and the movie has not been released on DVD; for my money, this would be one movie suitable for classroom use on World War II in the Pacific.)

The last meeting of the Peter Tare group reminds us again — did we need the reminder? — that our local sources of history die out. While fewer than two dozen PT boat vets met this year, there may be as many as 100 of them left alive. A good history assignment, for early in the year (these vets are not getting younger), would be to have a couple of students record an oral history from any local PT boat veterans in your area. Such histories can be deposited in local libraries, in the Museum of the War in the Pacific in Fredericksburg, Texas, in the PT boat museums, and copies kept at your school. An ambitious project might be video histories.

More information:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Peace and Freedom.

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5 Responses to PT Boat vets hold last meeting

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Richard, this blog is not affiliated with any veterans group. You should write to the groups listed in the post, and maybe do a search to see if there are other groups.

    Good luck!

    Like

  2. My father-in-law Paul Hoffler is in a nursing home,he served in the pt boat fleet,i want to give him something from you guys help.

    Like

  3. The next PT Boat reunion will be held June 26 through June 30 in Buffalo New York.

    PT Boat reunion information will be posted at PT Boats, Inc. website:

    http://www.ptboats.org/04-0-05-reunion.html

    Best wishes to all,
    Richard Washichek

    Like

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the update.

    Annual reunions? When’s the next one?

    Like

  5. PT Boat vets DO NOT hold their last meeting . . . .

    For the Sake of – “History, accuracy and education”

    Your article is very misleading, only the “Peter Tare” group ceased having reunions. The all-inclusive group, PT Boats, Inc. has not. The “Peter Tare” group was an exclusive group for PT boat officers ONLY. Where as PT Boat, Inc. was organized and supports ALL PT vets, Officers as well as grunts. Members of this group mainly come from PT boat crewmembers and officers (peter Tare) but also from PT Boat operations, repair, maintenance and support, whether they were on PT boats, PT bases, PT tender ships or based at the training center (MTBTC – Motor Torpedo Boat Training Center) in Melville RI.

    P.T. Boats Inc., was founded by Jimmy “Boats” Newberry, a prominent Memphis, Tennessee businessman and former World War II – P.T. boat crew veteran (now deceased). This organization, prior to incorporation, started out in 1946 as a hobby and a way that Mr. Newberry could keep in touch with former squadron (RON 9) members. He started a mimeographed Christmas letter to keep his fellow friends abreast of matters of interest about other squadron members. To his surprise other PT veterans heard about this and wanted to be included. Before long this Christmas letter became a 20-page newsletter “PT Boat All Hands Newsletter” with a mailing list of thousands and an annual reunion meetings.

    Today, the “All Hands” magazine is 64 plus pages and sent out for 9,000 plus members to enjoy. The members consist of Vets, spouses, children (2nd generation), modelers and individuals as myself “Friends of PT Boats”. Membership to PT vets and spouses is free while all others are required to make an annual donation.

    Need more information visit the website:

    http://www.ptboats.org/

    Or visit the PT Boat Message Board:

    http://www.ptboats.org/cgi-local/sitenetbbs/netboard.cgi

    Or contact Alyce Guthrie at headquarters in Germantown TN at 901-755-8840

    The organization also runs their “PT Museum” with two actual PT Boat and a vast library shared between the Museum in Battleship Gove, Fall River MA
    and Headquarters in Germantown TN

    Best wishes,
    Dick Washichek

    Like

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