John F. Kennedy's WWII letters sell at auction

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BOSTON (AP) — A collection of letters John F. Kennedy sent to the family of a lost PT-109 crewmate sold for $200,000 at an auction.

RR Auction, a Boston-based auction house, said the sale happened Thursday during a two-day auction at the Omni Parker House that also saw the sale of a collection of letters that Kennedy's younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, wrote to a classmate at what is now the Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island.

The letters from the future U.S. president were to the family of Harold Marney, who was killed in 1943 when the PT-109 boat Kennedy commanded was destroyed by a Japanese warship in the Solomon Islands.

Kennedy, who became a war hero for saving crew members, sent condolences to Marney's parents. The auction house said the letters are a rare example of Kennedy describing the PT-109 incident in his own words.

"Your son rode the PT 109 with me on the night of August 1-2 when a Japanese destroyer, travelling at a high speed cut us in two, as we turned into him for a shot," the young Kennedy wrote. "I am truly sorry that I cannot offer you hope that he survived that night. You do have the consolation of knowing that your son died in the service of his country."

In another letter, Kennedy thanked the Marney family for a sympathy card it sent after Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., his brother and a naval aviator, was killed in action in 1944. "I know you know how we all feel — boys like Harold and my brother Joe can never be replaced — but there is some consolation in knowing that they were doing what they wanted to do — and were doing it well," Kennedy wrote.

The letters Robert Kennedy, a future U.S. senator and attorney general, wrote were sent to Peter MacLellan from 1941 and 1945. They fetched $31, 250. The auction house said the buyers of the two sets of letters wish to remain anonymous.

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