The tale is long and involved, but boils down to this. After the destroyer sunk his PT-109 in 1943, Kennedy personally saved some of his shipmates, helped them to swim to several islands in search of food and shelter, orchestrated a rescue mission and eventually led them to safety. To read the full story, click here.
Kennedy earned numerous medals for his bravery and heroics from that day. He also ended up with a cane to help him recover from his injuries.
On Wednesday, that legendary cane will be donated to the National Museum of American History's Division of Political History.
The owner of the cane, retired Lt. Cmdr. Ted Robinson, U.S. Navy Reserve, was on the boat that rescued Kennedy and nine other survivors. And he eventually shared a tent with Kennedy on the South Pacific island of Tulagi while Kennedy recovered from his injuries. During their month together, Kennedy told Robinson first-hand about his heroics.
Robinson kept the cane after he and Kennedy parted ways, and has had it ever since. He also took a picture of Kennedy with his cane that he has kept for years in a safe deposit box. Robinson told News10 in Sacramento that Kennedy took the camera and took a picture of him with the same cane.
Robinson kept the photos all these years, as well.
"You could only bring the prints back," he told the TV station. "You couldn't keep the negatives because of censorship."
Robinson eventually wrote a book about their encounter.
And now the cane, the camera and photos are Smithsonian-bound.
"I should share that with the public," Robinson told the TV station. "I'm not getting any money out of it. I just think it's the thing to do."