PT 658 to cruise into LO for show
There will be a very special guest for the 12th annual Oswego Heritage Council Collector Car and Class Boat Show in August - PT 658.
This beautifully restored classic combat craft from the World War II era will be sailing right up to Foothills Park Docks on Aug. 20.
Of course, event directors are planning a big reception for the boat.
'We're going to have a welcome from the mayor and city council,' said Kristen Winn, chairperson of the classic boat show. 'We're going to have music and coffee and we hope the mayor will give the PT crew a key to the city.'
PT 658 is special because PT boats are an American legend. It was a PT boat that carried Gen. Douglas MacArthur on his miraculous escape from the Philippines to Australia in 1942. On PT 109, then-Lt. John F. Kennedy turned disaster into a heroic episode that helped propel him to the presidency in 1960.
But the passage of time eroded that legend. That is, until PT 658 became the one and only fully restored and fully operational PT boat in the world. Right down to the camouflage paint job.
'It will probably have a rocket launcher by the time it gets to Lake Oswego,' said Bob Alton. 'We're very picky about what is authentic.'
It is thanks to Alton and his 47 friends (including eight PT boat veterans from World War II) in Save the PT Boat, Inc. that PT 658 is back in business. They transformed the boat from an 'eyesore' into a thing of beauty and a remarkable historical exhibit.
'It was tied up at Treasure Island (Calif.). It sank in a storm and the Navy dragged it to shore,' said Alton, who is the organization's director of restoration. 'The city of Van-couver said it was an eyesore.'
But some Portland-area PT boat veterans again reported for duty. With the help of Alton and others they raised funds and steadily restored the boat. By 2004, the craft was seaworthy and going to festivals, where it has become a popular attraction.
Alton became involved in this unique project 10 years ago shortly after he retired. He met Chuck Kellogg, the owner of many classic boats, at a meeting of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. Alton offered to become engineer and has been working diligently ever since.
The boat 'is floating history,' said Jude Graham, executive director of the Oswego Heritage Council.
It will be an exciting opportunity for history and boat lovers. Visitors to the boat will be able to get close-up views because tours will be given of the deck and engine room, starting Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. and ending Aug. 21 at 3 p.m.
The public will be able to ask questions of authentic PT boat veterans, including the officer who skippered PT 109 before JFK.
Winn said, 'This is one of only 300 historic Navy vessels that are actually operating and not just in a static display.'
Wells Fargo is serving as sponsor for the PT 658 appearance in Lake Oswego.
Photos of PT 658 can be viewed on the website www.savetheptboatinc.com .
For more information about the 2011 Heritage Classic Boat Show, go to the site at www.oswegoheritage.org .