Public Relations is not an easy industry in which to work. Results are never guaranteed and rejection is frequent – perhaps the reason that public relations executive is ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs by Forbes.
However, there are occasions when all the stars align for a truly unforgettable media moment. I witnessed one of these moments recently when I boarded the National WWII Museum’s completely restored PT-305 boat with a crew from NBC Nightly News. And, if stepping onto a living piece of history with one of the nation’s top news outlets wasn’t enough, I was joined by a living legend, World War II veteran James Nerison, one of only two surviving to have served aboard PT-305.
For those not familiar with World War II vessels, Patrol Torpedo (PT) boats were wooden fast-attack craft developed by the U.S. Navy in 1938. Deployed to make nighttime attacks on enemy shipping, PT boats relied on stealth and courage to attack, and speed and maneuverability to get away. For its part, PT-305 was deployed in the Mediterranean where she conducted 77 offensive patrols and operations, fought in 11 separate actions and sank three German Ships. Following the war, PT-305 served as a tour boat, scalloping boat and oyster rig. Falling into complete disrepair, the Museum acquired the vessel and for nearly a decade led a mostly volunteer effort to restore her to her wartime condition. Today PT-305 is the only operational combat PT boat in existence.
This was the boat I boarded for a ride on Lake Pontchartrain, where PT-305 originally underwent sea testing more than 70 years ago. Needless to say, the ride was absolutely amazing and I imagined what it must have been like to cruise across the Mediterranean at lightning speed in the dead of night during the war. Mr. Nerison was truly in his element, manning the boat’s helm and regaling the NBC crew with tales of his wartime service. I have no doubt that this is an experience I will never forget. Not only did I score a major win for a long-term client, I secured the opportunity for Mr. Nerison, a true national hero, to share his story and the story of “his boat” as he affectionately called her.