County of Marin - Press Releases - Memorial Day

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2014

Memorial Day Speaker Saved JFK’s Life in WWII

Lt. Cmdr. Ted Robinson to visit Marin for May 26 event

San Rafael, CA - The Navy man who helped rescue a young PT boat skipper named John Fitzgerald Kennedy during World War II will be the featured speaker at Marin County’s annual Memorial Day event May 26 at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael.

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Ted Robinson, 94, was an ensign in August 1943 when he was assigned to pick up the future President of the United States after JFK’s boat, PT 109, was destroyed by a Japanese warboat near a Pacific island. Kennedy swam through shark-infested waters to safety and was discovered by island natives. Kennedy carved a note on a coconut and the natives delivered it to an American outpost on another island. Robinson and other men rescued JFK and 10 other survivors and later rehabilitated with Kennedy after Robinson survived the sinking of his own PT boat.

Robinson, who has lived in the Sacramento area since 1961, spent 23 years in the Naval Reserves after the war and worked 36 years with Pacific Telephone in engineering and public relations. He wrote an autobiography titled “Water in My Veins” that includes his account of the JFK rescue.

The Memorial Day event, presented by the Marin County United Veterans Council and supported by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, honors all fallen American servicemen and servicewomen in the line of duty with a special emphasis on Marin’s own heroes. It includes an indoor ceremony inside the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium followed by an outdoor ceremony in front of the military monuments on Avenue of the Flags just outside the Marin Center complex.

The county has lost two locals in relatively recent combat actions in the Middle East. U.S. Army Spc. Jake Robert Velloza, who grew up in Inverness and graduated from Tomales High School, died in Iraq on June 9, 2009. Army Spc. Nicholas Paul Olson, who grew up in Novato and graduated from Marin Oaks High School, died in Iraq on Sept. 18, 2007.

The ceremony will feature the voice of sisters Victoria and Julianna Pereira of San Rafael and patriotic marches played by the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District Non-Marching Band. Cadets from the House of Steel gym in San Rafael, led by Marine Corps Lt. Gregory Allen, will participate as a color guard and drill team. Elected officials and representatives from local veterans groups will be recognized. After wreaths are laid at the foot of statues on Avenue of the Flags and “Taps” is played, doughnuts and coffee will be served in the Redwood Room of Marin Center.

The free event begins with music at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony begins at 10. For more information, contact Sean Stephens, Marin County Veterans Service Officer, at 415-473-6193. Learn more about our Veterans Services program by watching this short video.


Sean Stephens
Veterans Services Officer
Health and Human Services

10 N. San Pedro Rd.
Suite 1010
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6193
Email: Sean Stephens
Veterans Services website