Historians spend so much time thinking about how history would have been different should JFK have survived the assassination attempt that we forget that the man almost didn't survive long enough to become president in the first place.
Came Within Inches of Death When:
Long before he got into politics, Lieutenant John F. Kennedy of the U.S. Navy survived a shitstorm that would have killed a cybernetic dinosaur.
After Kennedy's motor torpedo boat PT-109 was rammed in half by an Imperial-Class Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific, he and two of his injured crewmates were left floating in the debris. There were more explosions roaring around them than a Michael Bay movie, the water was being patrolled by sharks and crocodiles, and every island in a 20 mile radius was occupied by hostile Japanese.
The only option for Kennedy was to swim almost four miles while dragging one of his crewmen with his teeth to an island only a few hundred yards long, just so they could swim another three miles in search of food. Eventually Kennedy came across enough coconuts to sustain his men for another six days of hell.
Kennedy had a thing for coconuts.
They were eventually spotted by a team of Solomon Islanders, men armed with Tommy guns, hated the Japanese, and operated on a rule of engagement that involved "all white people looked the same." Kennedy was somehow able to turn this stroke of death into a helping hand.
No doubt using his whiteness.
The Islanders finally agreed to help send, at great personal risk, a secret dispatch 35 nautical miles to the Allied forces via coconut.
"Can... can anyone tell what the hell this says?"
Had Kennedy been killed in the shipwreck, shot by the Japanese, eaten by the sharks or the crocs, killed by the islanders, starved or drowned while swimming between a couple dozen square miles of World War II, either Lyndon Johnson or Richard fucking Nixon would have been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is a very long way of saying we would all be totally fucked.
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For more amazing stories of people almost biting it, check out 7 People Who Cheated Death (Then Kicked It In The Balls). Or find out about some soldier stories more badass than Kennedy's, in 5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy.
Stop by our Top Picks (Updated 4.12.10) to see Seanbaby's brush with Death (which was followed by Death crawling away and crying).
And for something even more historic, check out The Chive's exclusive look at a Penazzling.
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