Saturday, July 17, 1999

John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane is missing

The son of the assassinated president
is believed down at sea with his wife
and her sister as searchers find
airplane debris and luggage

'John John' recalled his 'Hawaiian scar'

By Erica Noonan
Associated Press


AQUINNAH, Mass. -- Searchers swept the waters off Martha's Vineyard today, pressing a desperate hunt for John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and her sister, whose plane had vanished in the night. A piece of luggage from the plane was found off a Vineyard beach.

Fears grew that America's most renowned political family had suffered another ghastly tragedy. The couple had been en route to Cape Cod and a Kennedy cousin's wedding -- now postponed and replaced with prayers for the missing.

Kennedy -- universally known as "John John" since he was a toddler in the White House, and once labeled the "sexiest man alive" by People magazine -- had obtained his pilot's license just last year.

"We're still pursuing an active search-and-rescue mission. There's always hope," said Lt. Gary Jones of the U.S. Coast Guard office in Boston.

At Philbin Beach in Aquinnah -- the portion of the Vineyard popularly known as Gay Head -- "some luggage," a wheel, a headrest and part of a plane support known as a strut had washed up, said Coast Guard Lt. Craig Jaramillo.

Erin McCarthy, 31, of Boston, said she saw the black bag in the water. A business card attached had the name of Kennedy's sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, on it, she said.

'John John' recalled his 'Hawaiian scar'

Visiting here when he was 5,
he fell into a bed of hot coals

By Helen Altonn


John F. Kennedy Jr. first visited Hawaii when he was 5 years old with his mother, the late Jacqueline Kennedy, sister, Caroline, then 8, and cousins, Sydney and Christopher Lawford.

The visit was memorable for several reasons:

One of his favorite toys, an antique model, battery-operated car, was broken on the plane en route to Hawaii.

And he suffered burns on his right arm and backside when he fell into a bed of hot coals at Mauna Kea Beach on the Big Island. Years later he spoke of his "Hawaiian scar"

Caroline also stepped on a jagged piece of coral while playing in the surf off Kahala and had to have five stitches. She was on crutches for several days.

Mrs. Kennedy rented a Kahala beachfront home for a month-long vacation, starting in June 1966. It was her first trip to the islands.

She told another passenger on United Airlines she just wanted to enjoy the sun, spend a lot of time with her children and relax. "I've been assured Hawaii is the perfect place for that, and I'm hoping it will be," she said.

The family spent several days on the Big Island, staying at a private ranch house of Laurance Rockefeller, who owned the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

John and friends were playing on the shore and camping at Mauna Kea beach when he fell into a small campfire.

Dr. K.E. Nesting of Kamuela said at the time that the burns were painful but "John did not fuss or cry. He was very brave and cooperative, a real man."

The child was flown to Honolulu from Kamuela and carried off the plane by his mother. He was treated at the Kaiser Estate on Portlock Road where the family spent part of their vacation.

Dr. Eldon Dykes, a Straub Clinic and Hospital plastic surgeon who examined the child, said the injuries were minor and plastic surgery wasn't necessary.

Their bandages didn't keep the children from swimming or visiting Sea Life Park and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

John Jr. also saw minor league baseball's Islanders beat the Denver Bears as the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Kaiser.

When several players called him John-John, he told them: "My name is not John-John, it's John."

Mrs. Kennedy enjoyed the vacation so much she extended it three weeks to visit the neighbor islands. When the family left July 25 for New York, she said it had been a "perfect" vacation.

The 5-year-old even got his favorite toy back -- repaired.

Brig. Gen. Francis Boyles, then state protocol officer, retrieved the toy car with the help of United Airlines. He took it to Tandy Toys for Men where manager Ted Freitas repaired a broken axle.

"It looked like John-John sat on it," Freitas said.

Mrs. Kennedy wrote a letter to Honolulu's daily newspaper editors, thanking them for giving the family privacy on their vacation.

"Now I know what the Aloha spirit means," she wrote. "I hope it is contagious -- for it could change the world."

John Jr. returned here in July 1975 when he was 14 with his cousin, Timothy Shriver, on their way back from Truk, now known as Chuuk, in Micronesia.

They had a job there doing underwater reconnaissance of sunken ships for Sea Films, Inc., which was making a film for the National Geographic Society.

The youths spent three days in Hawaii swimming and sailing. They stayed at the Hilton Lagoon apartment of Fernando Parra, a prominent Mexican architect and longtime Kennedy family friend who had moved to Hawaii.

Kennedy then recalled his first visit here, saying he still had a "Hawaiian scar."

Kennedys have left a legacy of tragedies

Tragedies in the Kennedy family:

Bullet Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.: Son of Joseph and Rose. Killed in plane crash in 1944 during World War II at age 29.

Bullet Rosemary Kennedy: Daughter of Joseph and Rose. Institution-alized since 1941 because of retardation and failed lobotomy.

Bullet Kathleen Kennedy: Daughter of Joseph and Rose. Died in plane crash in 1948. She was 28.

Bullet John F. Kennedy: Son of Joseph and Rose, 35th president. Assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He was 46.

Bullet JFK's son Patrick Bouvier Kennedy: Born prematurely to the president and his wife in 1963 and died two days later.

Bullet Robert F. Kennedy: President's brother, assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. He was 42.

Bullet David: Robert's son, died in 1984 of a drug overdose in a hotel near family vacation home in Palm Beach, Fla.

Bullet Joseph: Robert's son, involved in 1973 car accident that left a female passenger paralyzed for life.

Bullet Michael: Robert's son, accused of having an affair with his family's teen-age baby sitter. Killed Dec. 31, 1997 in a skiing accident at Aspen, Colo. He was 39.

Bullet Edward M. Kennedy: Brother of John and Robert, drove a car off a bridge on Massachusetts' Chappaquiddick Island on July, 18 1969, after a party. Aide Mary Jo Kopechne was later found dead in submerged car.

Bullet Edward Jr.: Son of Edward, had right leg amputated in 1973 because of cancer.

Bullet Patrick: Son of Edward, now a congressman, sought treatment for cocaine addiction as a teen-ager in 1986.

Bullet William Kennedy Smith: Edward's nephew, acquitted of rape in 1991 at the family's Palm Beach estate.

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