The irrepressible young man who fought his way out of poverty to graduate from Duke University applied the same determination to fighting the Japanese with a small band of brothers that included a future Supreme Court Justice (Byron R. White) and a future president. One of the youngest commanding officers in the Navy, Lieutenant Commander Ted Robinson saw combat first in PT boat squadrons of the South Pacific, then took delivery of a new LST in Boston and steamed it immediately into harm's way at Okinawa. Now a community ...
The irrepressible young man who fought his way out of poverty to graduate from Duke University applied the same determination to fighting the Japanese with a small band of brothers that included a future Supreme Court Justice (Byron R. White) and a future president. One of the youngest commanding officers in the Navy, Lieutenant Commander Ted Robinson saw combat first in PT boat squadrons of the South Pacific, then took delivery of a new LST in Boston and steamed it immediately into harm's way at Okinawa. Now a community leader in Sacramento, Commander Robinson has helped to train prospective commanding officers of the Naval Reserve, and is known for his hundreds of speeches as director of the largest executive speakers bureau in California.
In a September 1962 speech delivered at Newport Beach prior to the America?s Cup Race, President John F. Kennedy observed, ?All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came.?
Lieutenant Commander Ted Robinson has gone back to the sea ? all the way back to August of 1943, when he served in a fateful PT boat battle and later rescued one of its principals, John F. Kennedy ? as related in his compelling wartime account, ?Water in My Veins.?
In this enthralling autobiography and riveting first-hand battle tale, Radar Officer of the lead boat in the attack in which JFK?s PT-109 was lost, Ted Robinson, provides the only direct account available anywhere of precisely what happened that dark night in the Solomon Islands? pitch black waters of Blackett Strait. Unlike revisionist fables fabricated by armchair ideologues, Commander Robinson?s account offers eyewitness testimony. He alone is able to personally relate the prelude, climax, and aftermath of that fateful moment in maritime combat history that altered the life of John F. Kennedy, setting him on a course toward the presidency of the United States some 17 years later.
Asked in 1960 by a reporter what event most transfigured him in terms of an eventual political career, John Kennedy replied without hesitation, ?My experience in World War II.?
As Kennedy?s rescuer and first person to speak with him and his crew concerning that August evening, Ted Robinson has a unique understanding of those harrowing events that changed Kennedy?s life. Moreover, as JFK?s sole hospital tent mate for two months after losing his own PT boat, Robinson acquired unique insight into the character, personality, and perspectives of John F. Kennedy in times of crisis and repose.
These he relates with wisdom, wit, and relish in an autobiographical saga that overall reads like a Frank Capra tale encompassing the triumphs and tragedies of Twentieth Century America. For aside from relating his personal recollections of young Jack Kennedy, Commander Robinson provides an engrossing account of his own life whose harrowing peacetime tribulations often matched the horrors of his wartime service.
An embryo of impending wealth as scion to a brilliant young business executive, Robinson was birth-slapped by reality into the hardscrabble rigors of abject poverty, having lost his father to the 1920 flu pandemic. From this nascent misfortune, his life suffered increasingly wretched hardship during America?s Great Depression, aided only by the heroic help of his deaf, lame, and toothless septuagenarian granddad. Persevering with courage, tenacity, intelligence, and labor, he eventually graduated from Duke University ? which qualified him to become a Navy Officer.
From novice ensign as a ?suicide sailor? on PT Boats to the youngest CO of an LST in the Navy, Robinson?s wartime exploits provide one of the most compelling first-hand accounts of intense, under-fire, behind enemy lines WW II combat ever put to paper. Those looking for a truly riveting WWII read will particularly like Chapter 21, ?The Rescue,? that recounts Robinson?s desperate attempt as Captain of a Landing Ship Tank, to extract an Army unit trapped behind enemy lines under fire during a typhoon!
Concluding with his post-war business career at Pac-Bell and avocation as a vivid first-rate raconteur, Water in My Veins is a thrilling, thoroughly entertaining, tragic-comedic roller coaster ride of politically-incorrect candor that captivates the reader and touches the heart. Former California First Lady, Maria Shriver has called, Robinson?s autobiography, an ?incredible story of overcoming challenges and of great courage during World War II.? President Kennedy?s niece commended Commander Robinson in a letter of appreciation, saying, ?I so enjoyed your?amazing story that weaves your life into a patchwork of events that is truly inspirational.?
?Water in My Veins? is a fine read from one of the very best of the ?Greatest Generation? to serve this country during war and peace. Despite a number of editing and proofing flaws (that, frankly, only underscore its raw authenticity), I highly recommend it.
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