It’s almost impossible for me to believe that John F. Kennedy served on one of these Higgins TP (Torpedo Patrol) boats. Essentially a wooden motorboat with racks to launch torpedoes from over the side, and guns mounted front and rear, they were a vital part of naval strategy. Primarily serving to take out barges, aided by their shallow draft they could follow them over shoals and in rivers, as well as defending against German E boats. Wooden hauls were high maintenance, and many of these boats were extremely aged before the war—but they were also useful because many of the minefields were seeded with magnetic mines. Both sides used wooden boats to cross minefields, and to clear them.
Standing beside the reconstruction at the Nimitz Museum, it’s almost impossible to fathom the courage it would take to perform these duties, and it’s a stark reminder of how much the war was won through grit and baler-twine. After the war nearly all of these boats were burned, as it simply wasn’t worth the money and effort to maintain them.