Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Pappy Boyington

Pappy Boyington

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Pappy Boyington'
Start a new discussion about 'Pappy Boyington'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (December 4, 1912 - January 11, 1988) was a United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 officer who was an American fighter ace
Flying ace
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. For his heroic actions, he was awarded both the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 and the Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

. Boyington flew initially with the American Volunteer Group
Flying Tigers
The 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, famously nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army , Navy , and Marine Corps , recruited under presidential sanction and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The ground crew and headquarters...

 in the Republic of China Air Force
Republic of China Air Force
The Republic of China Air Force is the aviation branch of the Republic of China Armed Forces. The ROCAF's primary mission is the defense of the airspace over and around Taiwan...

 during the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

. He later commanded the U.S. Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 squadron, VMF-214
VMA-214
Marine Attack Squadron 214 is a United States Marine Corps fighter squadron consisting of AV-8B Harrier jets. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing .The squadron is best known as the...

 ("The Black Sheep Squadron") during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Boyington became a prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 later in the war.

Early life


Gregory Boyington was born on December 4, 1912 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Coeur d'Alene is the largest city and county seat of Kootenai County, Idaho, United States. It is the principal city of the Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area. Coeur d'Alene has the second largest metropolitan area in the state of Idaho. As of the 2010 census the population of Coeur...

. He grew up in the logging town of St. Maries, Idaho
St. Maries, Idaho
St. Maries is a city in Benewah County, Idaho, United States. The population was 2,652 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Benewah County. Pronounced St. Mary's.-Geography:St. Maries is located at ....

 and in Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, southwest of Seattle, northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to...

, where he was a wrestler at Lincoln High School
Lincoln High School (Tacoma)
Lincoln High School is a 94 year old high school located in the south central sector of Tacoma, at the corner of 37th St. and South G adjacent to Lincoln Park . The school was founded in 1913 and built according to an architectural design by Frederick Heath. It has since been named as a historical...

. He took his first flight when he was six years old, with Clyde Pangborn
Clyde Pangborn
Clyde Edward Pangborn also known as "Upside-Down Pangborn" was an American aviator who performed aerial stunts during the 1920s...

, who later flew the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 non-stop.

In 1930, Boyington entered the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

, where he joined the ROTC and became a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha
Lambda Chi Alpha
Lambda Chi Alpha is one of the largest men's secret general fraternities in North America, having initiated more than 280,000 members and held chapters at more than 300 universities. It is a member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference and was founded by Warren A. Cole, while he was a...

 fraternity. He was a member of the college wrestling and swimming teams, and at one time held the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiate middleweight wrestling title. Boyington graduated in 1934 with a B.S.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 in aeronautical engineering
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

.

He spent his summers working in his home state in a mining camp and logging camp and with the Coeur d'Alene Fire Protective Association in road construction and lookout work.

Boyington married shortly after his graduation and worked for Boeing
Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 as a draftsman
Technical drawing
Technical drawing, also known as drafting or draughting, is the act and discipline of composing plans that visually communicate how something functions or has to be constructed.Drafting is the language of industry....

 and engineer
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

.

He had grown up using the name Hallenbeck, after his stepfather. But when he decided to apply for flight training, he obtained his birth certificate and learned his father was actually named Charles Boyington, and his parents had divorced when he was an infant. Since there was no record that Gregory Boyington had ever been married, he was free to become a cadet pilot under that name in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Military career


Boyington started his military career in college, as a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps in which he became a cadet captain. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Reserve in June 1934, and served two months of active duty with the 630th Coast Artillery at Fort Worden
Fort Worden
Fort Worden and accompanying Fort Worden State Park are located in Port Townsend, along Admiralty Inlet in Washington. It is situated on 433 acres originally built as a United States Army installation for the protection of Puget Sound. Fort Worden was named after U.S...

, Washington. On June 13, 1935, he enlisted and went on active duty in the Volunteer Marine Corps Reserve. He returned to inactive duty on July 16 in the same year.

On February 18, 1936, Boyington accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola or NAS Pensacola , "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", is a United States Navy base located next to Warrington, Florida, a community southwest of the Pensacola city limits...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, for flight training. He was designated a naval aviator on March 11, 1937, then was transferred to Quantico
Marine Corps Base Quantico
Marine Corps Base Quantico, sometimes abbreviated MCB Quantico, is a major United States Marine Corps training base located near Triangle, Virginia, covering nearly in southern Prince William County, northern Stafford County, and southeastern Fauquier County...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, for duty with Aircraft One, Fleet Marine Force
Fleet Marine Force
The United States Fleet Marine Forces are combined general and special purpose forces within the United States Department of the Navy that are designed in engaging offensive amphibious or expeditionary warfare and defensive maritime employment...

. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on July 1, 1937 in order to accept a second lieutenant's commission in the regular Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 the following day.

He was sent to The Basic School
Basic School
The Basic School is where all newly commissioned United States Marine Corps officers are sent to learn the art and science of being an Officer of Marines. TBS currently lasts 26 weeks. During those 26 weeks, the new officers are given extensive classroom, field, and practical application training...

 in Philadelphia in July 1938. On completion of the course, Boyington was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Group at the San Diego Naval Air Station. He took part in fleet problems off the aircraft carriers and . Promoted to lieutenant on November 4, 1940, Boyington returned to Pensacola as an instructor the next month.

Boyington resigned his commission in the Marine Corps on August 26, 1941 to accept a position with the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO)
Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company
The Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company was the creation of American entrepreneur William D. Pawley, the Curtiss-Wright sales representative in China during the 1930s.-History:...

. CAMCO was a civilian organization that contracted to staff a Special Air Unit to defend China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and the Burma Road
Burma Road
The Burma Road is a road linking Burma with the southwest of China. Its terminals are Kunming, Yunnan, and Lashio, Burma. When it was built, Burma was a British colony.The road is long and runs through rough mountain country...

. The unit later became known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famed Flying Tigers
Flying Tigers
The 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, famously nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army , Navy , and Marine Corps , recruited under presidential sanction and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The ground crew and headquarters...

 of China. During his months with the "Tigers", Boyington became a flight leader. He was frequently in trouble with the commander of that outfit, Claire Chennault. As a member of the AVG 1st Squadron, Boyington was officially credited with 3.5 Japanese aircraft destroyed in the air and on the ground, but AVG records suggest that one additional "kill" may have been due to him. (He afterward claimed six victories as a Tiger, but there is no substantiation for that figure.) In the spring of 1942, he broke his contract with the American Volunteer Group and returned to the United States, where he was eventually re-instated in the Marine Corps.

Boyington wrangled a major's commission in the Marines, which were in great need of experienced combat pilots. He was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 11
Marine Aircraft Group 11
Marine Aircraft Group 11 is a United States Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that is currently composed of three F/A-18C squadrons, three F/A-18D squadrons, one fleet readiness squadron, one KC-130 tactical aerial refueling squadron and a maintenance and...

 of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
1st Marine Aircraft Wing
The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is an aviation unit of the United States Marine Corps that serves as the Aviation Combat Element of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The wing is headquartered at Camp Foster on the island of Okinawa, Japan...

, where he became Executive Officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

 of VMF-121 operating from Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

. While assigned to VMF-121, Boyington did not shoot down any enemy planes. Later, he became Commanding Officer
Commanding officer
The commanding officer is the officer in command of a military unit. Typically, the commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as he sees fit, within the bounds of military law...

 (CO) of Marine Fighter Squadron 214
VMA-214
Marine Attack Squadron 214 is a United States Marine Corps fighter squadron consisting of AV-8B Harrier jets. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing .The squadron is best known as the...

, better known by its nickname, the "Black Sheep Squadron."

The CO earned the nickname "Gramps" because, at age 31, he was a decade older than most of his men. (Nicknames of this type are common within the armed forces, especially because the commanding officer of a unit is often referred to as "the old man".) It became "Pappy" in a variation on "The Whiffenpoof Song"
The Whiffenpoofs
The Yale Whiffenpoofs are the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the United States, established in 1909. Best known for "The Whiffenpoof Song", based on a tune written by Tod Galloway and adapted with lyrics by Meade Minnigerode & George S Pomeroy , the group comprises college...

 whose new lyrics had been written by Paul "Moon" Mullen, one of his pilots, and this version was picked up by war correspondents.

Boyington is best known for his exploits flying the Vought F4U Corsair in VMF-214. During periods of intense activity in the Russell Islands
Russell Islands
The Russell Islands are two small islands, as well as several islets, of volcanic origin, in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands. They are located approximately 48 km northwest from Guadalcanal. The islands are partially covered in coconut plantations, and have a copra and oil factory at...

-New Georgia
New Georgia
New Georgia is the largest island of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.-Geography:This island is located in the New Georgia Group, an archipelago including most of the other larger islands in the province...

 and Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

-New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

-New Ireland
New Ireland (island)
New Ireland is a large island in Papua New Guinea, approximately 7,404 km² in area. It is the largest island of the New Ireland Province, lying northeast of the island of New Britain. Both islands are part of the Bismarck Archipelago, named after Otto von Bismarck, and they are separated by...

 areas, Boyington added to his total almost daily. During his squadron's first tour of combat duty, the major shot down 14 enemy fighter planes in 32 days. By December 27, his record had climbed to 25.

A typical daring feat was his attack on Kahili airdrome at the southern tip of Bougainville on October 17, 1943. He and 24 fighters circled the field where 60 hostile aircraft were based, goading the enemy into sending up a large force. In the fierce battle that followed, 20 enemy aircraft were shot down while the Black Sheep returned to their base without loss.

Boyington’s squadron, flying from the island of Vella Lavella
Vella Lavella
Vella Lavella is an island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. It lies to the west of New Georgia, but is considered one of the New Georgia Group...

, offered to down a Japanese Zero for every baseball cap sent to them by major league players in the World Series
World Series
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...

. They received 20 caps and shot down many more enemy aircraft.

He tied the American record of 26 planes on January 3, 1944 over Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

, but was shot down himself later the same day. The mission had sent 48 American fighters, including one division of four planes from the Black Sheep Squadron, from Bougainville for a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was the tactical commander of the flight and arrived over the target at eight o'clock in the morning. In the ensuing action, the major was seen to shoot down his 26th plane. He then became mixed in the general melee of diving, swooping planes and was not seen or heard from again during the battle, nor did he return with his squadron. (In later years, Masajiro "Mike" Kawato claimed to have been the pilot who shot down Boyington's plane. He described the combat in two books and numerous public appearances (often with Boyington), but this claim was eventually "disproven," though Kawato held to his story until his death. It is a matter of record that Kawato was present during the action in which Boyington was downed, as one of 70 Japanese fighters which engaged approximately 30 American fighters.) Boyington's wingman Captain George Ashmun was KIA.

Following a determined but futile search, Boyington was declared missing in action
Missing in action
Missing in action is a casualty Category assigned under the Status of Missing to armed services personnel who are reported missing during active service. They may have been killed, wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted. If deceased, neither their remains nor grave can be positively...

. He had been picked up by a Japanese submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 and became a prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. (The sub was sunk 13 days after picking him up.) According to Boyington's autobiography, he was never accorded official P.O.W. status by the Japanese and his captivity was not reported to the Red Cross. He spent the rest of the war, some 20 months, in Japanese prison camps
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

. After being held temporarily at Rabaul and then Truk, where he survived the massive U.S. Navy raid known as "Operation Hailstone
Operation Hailstone
Operation Hailstone was a massive naval air and surface attack launched on February 17–18, 1944, during World War II by the United States Navy against the Japanese naval and air base at Truk in the Caroline Islands, a pre-war Japanese territory.-Background:Truk was a major Japanese logistical base...

", he was transported first to Ofuna and finally to Omori. During that time he was selected for temporary promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...

. A fellow American prisoner of war was Medal of Honor recipient submarine captain Richard O'Kane
Richard O'Kane
Rear Admiral Richard Hetherington “Dick” O'Kane was a United States Navy submarine commander in World War II, who received a Medal of Honor for his service on the...

.

During mid-August 1945, after the atomic bombs and the Japanese capitulation, Boyington was liberated from Japanese custody at Omori Prison Camp
Omori
is a district located a few kilometres south of Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan accessed by rail via the Keihin Tohoku line, or by road via Dai Ichi Keihin. Ōmorikaigan, the eastern area of Ōmori, can be reached via the Keikyu line....

 near Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 on August 29. Boyington returned to the United States at Naval Air Station Alameda
Naval Air Station Alameda
Naval Air Station Alameda was a United States Navy Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, on San Francisco Bay.NAS Alameda had two runways: 07-25 and 13-31...

 on September 12, 1945 and where he was met by 21 former squadron members from VMF-214. That night a party for him was held at the St. Francis Hotel
St. Francis Hotel
The Westin St. Francis is a historic luxury hotel located on Powell and Geary Streets on Union Square in San Francisco, California. The two twelve-story south wings of the hotel were built just before the San Francisco Earthquake, in 1904, and the double-width north wing was completed in 1913,...

 in downtown San Francisco that was covered by Life Magazine
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

. The coverage of the party marked the first time that the magazine had ever showed people consuming alcohol. Prior to his arrival, on September 6, he accepted his temporary lieutenant colonel's commission in the Marine Corps.


Shortly after his return to the U.S., as a lieutenant colonel, Boyington was ordered to Washington to receive the nation's highest honor — the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 — from the President. The medal had been awarded by the late president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in March 1944 and held in the capital until such time as he could receive it. On October 4, 1945, Boyington received the Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

 from the Commandant of the Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the Marine Corps is normally the highest ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...

 for the Rabaul raid; the following day, "Nimitz Day," he and other sailors and Marines were decorated at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 by President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

.

Following the receipt of his Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, Boyington made a Victory Bond Tour. Originally ordered to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, he was later directed to report to the Commanding General, Marine Air West Coast, Marine Corps Air Depot, Miramar, San Diego, California. He retired from the Marine Corps on August 1, 1947, and because he was specially commended for the performance of duty in actual combat, he was promoted to colonel.

Later life


Boyington was a tough, hard-living character who was known for being unorthodox. He was also a heavy drinker, which plagued him in the years after the war, and possibly contributed to his multiple divorces. He himself, freely admitted that during the two years he spent as a P.O.W. his health improved, due to the enforced sobriety. He worked various civilian jobs, including refereeing and participating in professional wrestling
Professional wrestling
Professional wrestling is a mode of spectacle, combining athletics and theatrical performance.Roland Barthes, "The World of Wrestling", Mythologies, 1957 It takes the form of events, held by touring companies, which mimic a title match combat sport...

 matches.

Many people know of him from the 1970s television show Baa Baa Black Sheep (also known as Black Sheep Squadron), a drama about the Black Sheep squadron based very loosely on Boyington's memoir of the same name, with Boyington portrayed by Robert Conrad
Robert Conrad
Robert Conrad is an American actor. He is best known for his role in the 1965 CBS television series The Wild Wild West, in which he played the sophisticated Secret Service agent James T. West, and his portrayal of World War II ace Pappy Boyington in the television series Baa Baa Black Sheep...

. Like Chuck Yeager
Chuck Yeager
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound...

 in the movie The Right Stuff, Pappy had a short walk-on role, as a visiting general during the second season of the show. Many of Boyington's men were very irate over this show, charging it was mostly fiction and presented a glamorized portrait of Boyington. At least on the television show, Boyington was depicted as owning a bull terrier
Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier or English Bull Terrier is a breed of dog in the terrier family. They are known for their large, egg-shaped head, small triangular eyes, and "jaunty gait." Their temperament has been described as generally fun-loving, active and clownish...

 dog, named "Meatball." However, he was heard commenting at a 1970s EAA airshow book signing that if he did have a dog at the time, it wouldn't have been such "an ugly" dog. Boyington frequently informed interviewers and audiences that the television series was fiction, and only loosely related to actual history, calling it "hogwash and Hollywood hokum
Hokum (disambiguation)
Hokum may refer to:*Hokum, a type of song in American blues music.*A euphemism for "bullshit"*The NATO code name for the Kamov Ka-50, a Russian attack helicopter.*The Bell-Bristol Aerospace Hokum-X, a target drone for the U.S. Army...

".

In addition to his autobiography, Boyington wrote a novel about the AVG. Tonya is a spy story with characters who evoked actual individuals, sometimes by transposing the syllables of their names ("Ross Dicky" for Dick Rossi, for example).

While artist depictions and publicity photos often show Boyington with aircraft number 86 "LuluBelle" covered in victory flags, this was not his combat aircraft. In fact, he rarely flew the same aircraft more than a few times. It has been said that he would choose the F4U in the worst shape, so none of his pilots would be afraid of flying their own aircraft.

The publicity photo taken of Boyington in F4U-1A Corsair number 86 was taken at Espiritu Santo (code named BUTTON), in the New Hebrides on 26 November 1943. The photo was taken while VMF-214 was on R&R, between VMF-214s 1st and 2nd combat tours with Boyington as the Commanding Officer. Although Boyington claimed after the war that the name of the plane in the publicity photo was named "LuluBelle" in light of Bruce Gamble's analysis, it was most likely named "LucyBelle". VMF-214 had previously served two combat tours in the Solomon Islands before Boyington assumed command of the squadron.

He visited the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

's National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

 Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility
Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility
The Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility is located in Suitland, Maryland, USA. The facility, also nicknamed "Silver Hill", is where the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum restores aircraft, spacecraft, and other artifacts.It is named in honor of...

, coincidentally just as the Museum's F4U Corsair left the restoration shop. According to docent
Museum docent
Museum docent is a title used in the United States for educators trained to further the public's understanding of the cultural and historical collections of the institution, including local and national museums, zoos, historical landmarks, and parks. In many cases, docents, in addition to their...

s who witnessed the incident, Boyington climbed into the cockpit "for old time's sake" and attempted to start the engine. He autographed the Corsair with a magic marker in one of the landing gear wells; saying, in effect, that it was a Corsair in the best condition he'd ever seen. Years later that same Corsair hangs from the ceiling at the NASM Dulles Annex
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States....

, and Boyington's autograph is visible from floor level to the sharp-eyed.

In 1957, he appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show "To Tell The Truth".

Boyington was an absentee father to three children by his first wife. One daughter (Janet Boyington) committed suicide; one son (Gregory Boyington, Jr.) graduated from the United States Air Force Academy
United States Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy is an accredited college for the undergraduate education of officer candidates for the United States Air Force. Its campus is located immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States...

 in 1960, and later retired from the Air Force holding the rank (of) Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...

.

Death


A heavy smoker for years, Boyington died in his sleep, possibly from cancer complications, on January 11, 1988 at the age of 75 in Fresno, California.

He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

 on January 15, 1988, in plot 7A-150 with full honors accorded to a Medal of Honor recipient, including a missing man fly-by
Missing man formation
The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a flyover of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot. The missing man formation is often called "the missing man flyby"...

 conducted by the F-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

s of the Marine detachment at Andrews Air Force Base
Andrews Air Force Base
Joint Base Andrews is a United States military facility located in Prince George's County, Maryland. The facility is under the jurisdiction of the United States Air Force 11th Wing, Air Force District of Washington ....

. Before his flight from Fresno, California
Fresno, California
Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation...

, VMA-214 (the current incarnation of the Black Sheep Squadron) did a flyby. They intended to do a missing man formation
Missing man formation
The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a flyover of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot. The missing man formation is often called "the missing man flyby"...

, but one of the four aircraft suffered a mechanical problem.

After the burial service for Boyington, one of his friends, Fred Losch, looked down at the headstone that he was standing next to, the boxing legend Joe Louis
Joe Louis
Joseph Louis Barrow , better known as Joe Louis, was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time...

, and remarked that "Ol' Pappy wouldn't have to go far to find a good fight."

Awards & honors


Naval Aviator insignia
1st row Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

American Defense Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
The American Defense Service Medal is a decoration of the United States military, recognizing service before America’s entry into the Second World War but during the initial years of the European conflict.-Criteria:...

2nd row American Campaign Medal
American Campaign Medal
The American Campaign Medal was a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was first created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal is a service decoration of the Second World War which was awarded to any member of the United States military who served in the Pacific Theater from 1941 to 1945 and was created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The medal was...

 w/ 2 service star
Service star
A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a United States military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award. Service stars are typically issued for campaign medals, service...

s
World War II Victory Medal

Medal of Honor citation


"The President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in the name of The Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to
MAJOR GREGORY BOYINGTON

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO FOURTEEN in action against enemy Japanese forces in Central Solomons Area from September 12, 1943 to January 3, 1944. Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Major Boyington struck at the enemy with daring and courageous persistence, leading his squadron into combat with devastating results to Japanese shipping, shore installations and aerial forces. Resolute in his efforts to inflict crippling damage on the enemy, Major Boyington led a formation of twenty-four fighters over Kahili on October 17, and, persistently circling the airdrome where sixty hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down twenty enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds, Major Boyington personally destroyed 26 of the many Japanese planes shot down by his squadron and by his forceful leadership developed the combat readiness in his command which was a distinctive factor in the Allied aerial achievements in this vitally strategic area.

/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

"

Airport renaming


In August 2007, the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Coeur d'Alene is the largest city and county seat of Kootenai County, Idaho, United States. It is the principal city of the Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area. Coeur d'Alene has the second largest metropolitan area in the state of Idaho. As of the 2010 census the population of Coeur...

 airport was renamed the "Coeur d’Alene Airport–Pappy Boyington Field" in his honor. An independent documentary film called Pappy Boyington Field was produced by filmmaker Kevin Gonzalez in 2008, chronicling the grassroots campaign to add the commemorative name. The film showcases many of the local veterans who were involved with the campaign, as well as the personal insights into Boyington's life provided by his son Gregory Boyington Jr. and the actor Robert Conrad, who portrayed him in the television series. The documentary film has been reviewed by the Marines.

University of Washington Medal of Honor Memorial


In February 2006, a resolution recommending a memorial be erected to honor Boyington for his service during World War II was raised and defeated at the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

 (Boyington's alma mater) during a meeting of the Associated Students of the University of Washington's Student Senate. Some people did not believe the resolution's sponsor had fully addressed the financial and logistical problems of installing a memorial, and some were questioning the widely-held assumption that all warriors and acts of war are automatically worthy of memorialization. The story was picked up by some blogs and conservative news outlets, focusing on two statements made by student senators during the meeting. One student senator, Ashley Miller, said that the UW already had many monuments to "rich, white men" (Boyington was of Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

 ancestry and not rich); another, Jill Edwards, questioned whether the UW should memorialize a person who killed others, summarized in the minutes as saying "she didn’t believe a member of the Marine Corps
Marine corps
A marine is a member of a force that specializes in expeditionary operations such as amphibious assault and occupation. The marines traditionally have strong links with the country's navy...

 was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

After its defeat, a new version of the original resolution was submitted that called for a memorial to all five UW alumni who received the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 after attending the UW. On April 4, 2006, the resolution passed by a vote of 64 to 14 with several abstentions, on a roll call vote. The eventual University of Washington Medal of Honor memorial was completed in time for Veterans Day
Veterans Day
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark...

 2009, and was made possible through private funding. In addition to Boyington, it honors Deming Bronson
Deming Bronson
Deming Bronson was a United States Army officer who received the United States military's highest award, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War I.Bronson was born on July 8, 1894, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin...

, Bruce Crandall, John D. Hawk, Robert Leisy, William Kenzo Nakamura, and Archie Van Winkle
Archie Van Winkle
Colonel Archie Van Winkle was a United States Marine who was awarded Medal of Honor for his actions as a Staff Sergeant during the Korean War....

.

See also



Further reading

  • Colonel R. Bruce Porter and Eric M. Hammel
    Eric M. Hammel
    Eric M. Hammel is a military historian, with a focus on the military campaigns of theUnited States Marine Corps, and military action in World War II.-Bibliography:* Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War ISBN 0-8149-0856-x...

     ACE!:A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot in World War II Pacifica Press, ISBN 0-935553-31-2

External links