In 1944, on this fateful day Colonel Elliott Roosevelt was killed and Lieutenant Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. critically injured during the course of an experimental attack in which unmanned, explosive-laden bombers were deliberately crashed into enemy targets under radio control.
All the Way with JPKThe task of reporting the tragedy befalling the President and his former Ambassador's sons passed unhappily to General Jimmy Doolittle. He transmitted a top Secret telegram to General Carl Andrew Spaatz stating that the Navy Crew (Kennedy and John Willy) had bailed out of their Liberator after it caught fire during their first remote control turn. The explosion damaged chase pilot Colonel Roosevelt's de Havilland Mosquito which was filming the mission. Unable to limp home, the aircraft disintegrated over the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk.
Kennedy was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Meda. After the war he resumed his studies at Harvard University. And also his political interests (he had attended the 1940 Democratic National Convention as a delegate). As a conservative democrat he added electoral balance to Lyndon Baines Johnson's winning campaign in 1960. But as Vice President, his war-time service formed a natural bond of empathy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff which created a counterweight problem in the Oval Office. And he was almost immediately marginalized in the Administration for adopting an alarmingly hawkish position during the Bay of Pigs Crisis.
By the time that re-election appeared on the horizon he was constantly in acute pain from the back injuries that he had suffered in Operation Aphrodite, He required staggeringly large daily dosages of pain killers simply to perform his largely ceremonial duties. The citation of medical reasons would provide both parties with the necessary excuse for him to be dropped from the 1964 ticket. Nevertheless they privately agreed to campaign together in a vote-gathering swing through the south making an announcement in the following spring. It took a great act of courage from Kennedy who required a heavy back brace to sit up straight in the Presidential limousine on that fateful day in November 1963.