The commander of the boat, known as the “skipper”, operated the PT boat from the cockpit seen here. Two PT boat skippers received the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II. John D. Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor for the operation that took General Douglas MacArthur, his family and Philippine officials from Corregidor to the southern Philippines as the islands fell to the Japanese. Bulkeley retired in 1988 as a Vice Admiral after 59 years of active duty. Arthur Murray Preston was awarded the Medal of Honor for the rescue of a downed Navy pilot off Halmahera Island. This rescue took place within 200 yards of heavily defended Japanese positions and his boat was under fire for over two hours.
Other famous PT boat skippers included John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States; Douglas Fairbanks Jr., movie actor; Howard Baker, White House Chief of Staff under President Reagan; Robert Montgomery, movie actor; Alfred and George Vanderbilt, millionaires and Byron White, Supreme Court Justice, retired 1993.
Information courtesy of The World War II PT Boat Museum and Archives: Germantown, Tennessee.
The museum’s advisor on the PT-309 exhibit is Captain Ken Prescott, USN (Ret), skipper of PT-48 and PT-61.