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Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, 5254 (POW, survived)
Crashed January 3, 1944 at 8:45am
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1A Corsair bureau number 17915.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to Marine Fighting Squadron 214 (VMF-214) "Black Sheep". No known nickname or nose art.
On January 3, 1944 at 6:30am took off from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville piloted by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was in tactical command of 46 fighters, including 8 F4Us from VMF-214, 12 F4Us from VMF-211 and 16 F6F from VF-33 flying from Ondonga Airfield. After take off, several planes aborted the mission due to mechanical failures, including three Corsairs from VMF-214.
Arriving over the target area at an altitude 20,000' to 24,000' the formation spotted a group of A6M Zeros and dove to intercept. Likely, this was 29 A6M Zeros from the 253 Kōkūtai. Also airborne were 27 A6M Zeros from 204 Kōkūtai that joined the dog fight.
During the combat, Boyington shot down a Zero from dead astern (his 20th victory) claiming it went down burning, and was confirmed by several other witnesses. Afterwards, Boyington's wingman F4U Corsair 02723 piloted by Captain George M. Ashmun was overwhelmed by attacking Zeros and lost.
Boyington then got the brunt of the Zero attacks and was hit by a 20mm cannon shell that exploded in the belly of his plane, wounded him in the leg, head, ear and forearm. Severely damaged, he leveled off over Saint Georges Channel, flew for a half mile until his fuel tank caught fire. At approximately 0845, Boyington bailed out at low altitude with his parachute opening moments before he hit the water. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Prisoner of War
On February 15, 1944 Boyington and fifteen
other Allied prisoners were to be flown to Japan, but the flight was aborted due to an Allied attack warning. On February 17, 1944 Boyington was one of six Allied prisoners transported aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber from Rabaul to Truk. That same day, transported aboard a L2D Tabby (DC-3) from Truk to Saipan then Iwo Jima and on March 7, 1944 arrived in Japan. Transported to Ofuna
Camp near Yokohama where he was detained as a prisoner until the surrender of Japan. Liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku).
Medal of Honor Citation
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