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Thread: Lyndon B. Johnson's Silver Star

  1. #1
    Senior Member JJHH's Avatar
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    Default Lyndon B. Johnson's Silver Star

    I was watching "Path to War" , a very interesting movie about the rise (and fall) of President L.B. Johnson. Interested in Johnson's personal life I was surfing the internet looking for information and came across this statement by Johnson's biographer, Robert Caro:

    "The most you can say about Lyndon Johnson and his Silver Star is that it is surely one of the most undeserved Silver Stars in history, because if you accept everything that he said, he was still in action for no more than 13 minutes and only as an observer. Men who flew many missions, brave men, never got a Silver Star."

    Official citation:

    "For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness in spite of the hazards involved. His gallant action enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information."

    The interesting fact is that none of the others involved in the mission received such medals. In addition, like Caro said, other men who flew such missions, never received such a medal. Can someone elaborate on this?

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    Senior Member CMNot's Avatar
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    Meh, its LBJ, far easier to send others to die than chance it yourself.

    It's been quite a prevalent passtime among officers throughout decades, writing up for career advancement. Off the top of my head, Vietnam memoirs in particular are littered with such stories - remember a good few bitter enlisted tales of officers seeking out CIBs so they could make staff grade one day or such bull****. LBJs SS stinks of this such practice. There's more than a little suggestion that this is why there have been relatively less gallantry awards during the WoT.

    EDIT: Bah, look at who awarded it him. MacArthur, the story gets better.

  3. #3

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    Lol, that's hilarious if true.
    Silver start for not kicking the front seat, or asking "are we there yet?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jelle H. View Post
    Can someone elaborate on this?
    The Caro version you posted is the version of events I have heard as the closest to truth as to what happened on that mission. As for further details, I can tell you he was an "observer" on a 22nd Bombardment Group B-26 Marauder named "Heckling Hare" and also known as "Arkansas Traveller." At this time, the 22nd BG was flying out of air*****s near Townsville, Australia, then over Port Moresby in New Guinea. I believe Johnson climbed aboard at Port Moresby. To my knowledge, no other members of the crew received anything because absolutely nothing happened.

    I used to work with a lot of archival materials related to the 22nd BG and that was the accepted story--that the mission LBJ flew was totally uneventful.

    Martin Caidin wrote a book about the event--I would avoid it as I would most of Caidin's books.

    Robert Caro makes it clear that even by 1941 LBJ was a very powerful figure in the Democratic Party. Johnson was one of FDR's biggest fundraisers because of his ties with a company called Kellog, Brown and Root. It doesn't seem unlikely that the medal LBJ was awarded was awarded as a "political" medal--but Caro isn't able to come to any conclusions on that.

    Robert Caro also details the KBR-Johnson relationship in painstaking detail.

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    Senior Member Mastermind's Avatar
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    Like I have said before...I hope LBJ is roasting on a spit in Hell. MM

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    The f-up thing about it is that he was supposed to be on one plane, but chose the wrong one. The other observer then got onboard the plane that LBJ was scheduled to fly on. It got shot down and everyone died.

    Ain't life a *****.

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    Senior Member Breakfast in Vegas's Avatar
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    First I've heard of this... does not reflect well upon LBJ.

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    Talking LBJ and the Stolen Silver Star

    LBJ should of never gotten the Silver Star, he was a passenger. The question other then knowing it a polictical thing is why he got the Silver Star and none of the flight crews and or any other observer.

    As far as the question of why he was bumped from one plane to another is this.
    1. The Planes belonged to the ARMY AIR CORP and not the Navy. An Army Colonel is not going to let a Navy person fly lead in any Army plane, just as much as a Naval Officer would not let an Army person lead a flight of Naval planes
    2. A Colonel is a 0-6 and LBJ was a Lieuntant Commander is a 0-4, two pay grades below a Colonel.

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    Hellfish Junior gaijinsamurai's Avatar
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    Robert Caro's "Means of Ascent", about LBJ's first run for the US Senate, was the text for one of my university classes ("Political Parties & Elections") as a PoliSci major at the University of Oregon. The (in)famous "Silver Star incident" was recounted in that book too.

    One thing is for sure: IF there is a Hell, Lyndon Johnson is surely there, and undoubtedly, he has found a way to finagle himself to some place of power and priviledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinsamurai View Post
    Robert Caro's "Means of Ascent", about LBJ's first run for the US Senate, was the text for one of my university classes ("Political Parties & Elections") as a PoliSci major at the University of Oregon.
    Did it turn you off politics, GS?

    I've only read volumes one and two of the Caro bios of LBJ--"The Path to Power" and "Means of Ascent." I haven't read vol. 3 "Master of the Senate" and Caro is working on vol. 4--which should be the last, I think.

    For good or for bad, Caro shows what national politics is really like and that LBJ is not unique--decent people can't make it that far! Caro is really thorough in his examination of LBJ and I recommend both books not just for the "Silver Star" account, but for a glimpse of how American politics really works. You don't get to be a Representative, a Senator, or President by being one of the "good guys." That country club is reserved for scumbags only!

    Anyhow, I think the volume Caro is working on now will cover the Vietnam War--and possibly stuff like LBJ's "sparring" with Richard Nixon in the 1969-72 period (after LBJ was retired).

    Sorry if I veered off-topic too far.

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    Hellfish Junior gaijinsamurai's Avatar
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    ^ I totally agree, JJB! Good guys don't make it far in politics*, except on very rare occasions. If they seem really ethical, it's probably just because they are a better
    bullsh!++er.

    What turned me off even more from politics as a career was being in student government, and seeing all the slick or rich kids being successful, even though they were often full of crap. One of my colleagues became a state senator, and another wound up on the city council, and they were both 20-something versions of LBJ/Slick Willie/GWB.

    Sorry for being off-topic!!


    * Actually, my focus was foreign policy and international relations, and I double majored in International Studies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinsamurai View Post
    ^ .
    Yes sir, I understand. Another of those cases where a cliche is a cliche because it is absolutely true! Even at the local and state levels....

  13. #13

    Default LBJ's Silver Star

    I am not sure if this is the right place to post this but since LBJ was a politician and I am going to be ranting about this I figure its the right place. How many of you know LBJ was awarded a Silver Star back in 1942 during WWII. Yep, it's true and he got it for, get this riding in a plane on a fact finding mission from FDR. Now the citation reads as follows

    From http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq60-7.htm


    Commander Lyndon B. Johnson's Army Silver Star Medal Citation

    ARMY SILVER STAR MEDAL
    TO
    LIEUTENANT COMMANDER LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON,
    UNITED STATES NAVAL RESERVE[*******#000000][FONT=Times New Roman]"For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness in spite of the hazards involved. His gallant action enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information."[/FONT]


    [FONT=Times New Roman]Now here are two links that tell the real story behind this[/FONT]

    http://hnn.us/articles/153.html

    http://www.b-26mhs.org/archives/manu...ilverstar.html

    [FONT=Times New Roman]And if you notice when he is sworn in as president on Air Force One after Kennedy's assassination he is wearing the Silver Star lapel button.[/FONT]

    [/COLOR]
    Last edited by digrar; 04-11-2012 at 11:02 PM. Reason: hotlinked image, breaks forum rules.

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    Bush Lawyer, that's me! TheKiwi's Avatar
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    None of the other heroic crew members were awarded?

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    If you are referring to the plane that Johnson was on, nope nothing not even an air medal. BTW I forgot to mention in my original post that was the only award LBJ got. Not even a WWII Victory medal. How can you win a Silver Star and not get any other medal??

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