MACARTHUR, DOUGLAS. 1880-1964.
MACARTHUR CLARIFIES COMMENTS ON KENNEDYS WAR RECORD.
Typed Letter Signed (Douglas MacArthur), 1 p, 4to, New York, September 1, 1960, to John Mahanna, leaf creased horizontally and toned, mild chipping with loss to left and right margins.
As the 1960 presidential campaign heated up, Drew Pearson, author of the popular muckraking column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, published an inflammatory quote on Kennedys war record purportedly from General MacArthur (a Republican Party stalwart and an old enemy of Pearsons), to wit: Those PT boats carried only one torpedo. They were under orders to fire it and then get out. Kennedy hung around, however, and let a Japanese destroyer mow him down. When I heard about it I talked to his superior officer. He should have been court-martialed. The quote was widely circulated, and was a public relations nightmare for a Presidential candidate relying heavily on his war record. Kennedy wrote to his friend Mahanna of the Berkshire Eagle, who had served under MacArthur in the Philippines, asking him to seek clarification. MacArthur sent this letter in response, which Mahanna published in his own paper and disseminated on UPI: Dear Mr. Mahanna: / I have your letter of August 30th with its enclosed clipping. The quotation attributed to me is false and does not reflect my views. I regard Senator Kennedys service in the Pacific War as that of a brave and resourceful young naval officer. His decorations were well earned. / I gave no interview to the author of the article you mention and, in fact, have never personally met him. He attempts to put words in my mouth which I have never uttered. Pearson responded to Mahannas story snidely: I am glad that Gen. MacArthur has had a change of heart regarding Sen. Kennedy.