How a Luckily Timed Bathroom Break Saved Lyndon B. Johnson's Life During World War II

If not for Naval Reserve officer Lyndon Johnson’s sudden need to relieve himself before a bomber flight during World War II, he might never have taken over the Oval Office after John F. Kennedy’s death, and there might never have been Medicare or an escalation of the Vietnam War. That’s because the future president’s bladder caused him to lose his observer’s seat on the Wabash Cannonball, a B-26 that was shot down by Japanese forces in New Guinea, killing everyone onboard. Johnson ended up joining the crew of another bomber, the Heckling Hare, that was crippled in the middle of the mission by a failed electrical generator, and then had to struggle back to base under enemy fire. Instead of killing him, Johnson’s harrowing experiences that day actually boosted his political fortunes, giving him clout as a candidate who had seen combat — if only briefly — and done his duty in the war.