John F. Kennedy commanded a PT boat (Patrol Torpedo boat) in WW2. The story of JFK's boat the PT-109 and it's sinking became a cultural phenomenon. The story made JFK a war hero, and inspired song, books, and a movie.

August 2, 1943 the 109 along with other PT boats were on patrol in the Ferguson and Blackett Straits, of the Solomon Islands. The 109 was sitting at idle on that very dark night when the Japanese Destroyer Amagiri ran into it. The much smaller PT boat (built of plywood) was cut in half and left as burning wreckage. Kennedy managed to get the survivors to a nearby deserted island. An Australian coast watcher named Evans sent native islanders out in a dugout canoe to search for the crew of the 109. Contact was made and a message was sent back which resulted in the 11 survivors of the 109 being rescued. All the effort of surviving and getting rescued was done while the enemy patrolled the area and its islands.

More Info: en.wikipedia.org