April 17, 2012

The US Navy’s next destroyer will be the USS Lyndon B. Johnson

Filed under: History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:00

I guess they’re happy they don’t have to use that particular name on an aircraft carrier:

Strike one against the U.S.S. Lyndon Johnson: the Gulf of Tonkin incident. A confusing episode off the Vietnamese coast on August 2, 1964 resulted in a brief maritime skirmish with the North Vietnamese. The destroyer U.S.S. Maddox got shot; one of its aircraft was damaged. It was unclear who fired first. (A claimed follow-on engagement two days later was ultimately determined to have been a fiction.) Johnson’s administration, seeking an excuse to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam, portrayed the incident to Congress as a clear-cut act of North Vietnamese aggression. A decade later, the futile Vietnam war had claimed 57,000 American lives.

Strike two: Lyndon Johnson’s Naval war record was similarly dubious. As Johnson’s magisterial biographer, Robert Caro, documented in Means of Ascent, Johnson’s Naval commission in World War II was the result of string-pulling. (Johnson was a sitting congressman at the time; he sought a commission to bolster his political career.) His military career consisted of a single combat flight over the Pacific for which he received a Silver Star. For the next two decades, Johnson repeatedly exaggerated his tall tale of defying a Japanese Zero.

Strike three: the U.S.S. Lyndon Johnson will be a Zumwalt-class destroyer — a class of ship singled out by good-government watchdogs as an unaffordable boondoggle.

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