Former President Lyndon B. Johnson bragged he was a World War II hero, but he actually observed only 13 minutes of combat, according to a book to be published next year.
An excerpt from the book “Means of Ascent” published in the New Yorker magazine declares the Silver Star that Johnson said he won for his heroism in World War II was merely a political gesture made by Gen. Douglas McArthur.
The book’s author, Robert A. Caro, writes that in the years after the war that Johnson “portrayed himself as a war-scarred veteran of many battles on many fronts.”
Actually, Caro says, Johnson saw combat in the South Pacific, only as an observer, “for a total of 13 minutes.”
“Not only did Johnson accept the Silver Star,” the New Yorker serialization says, “he arranged to accept it in public. Several times. Buying the decoration (in an Army-Navy store in Washington), he took it to Texas, where, in a number of public appearances, it was affixed to his lapel as if for the first time.”
Caro said “Johnson rapidly came to feel not only that he deserved it but that he deserved more: that the Silver Star was not a sufficiently high honor for such heroism as his.”