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Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington
Commanding Officer VMF-214 "Black Sheep", U. S. Marine Corps
F4U Corsair Pilot, Ace earned the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross
Wartime History
Gregory "Pappy" Boyington was born December 4, 1912 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) with serial number 5254.

Wartime History
By 1941, he achieved the rank of First Lieutenant by 1941 but resigned to join the American Volunteer Group (AVG). In China, he claimed six victories against Japanese aircraft. After the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, he rejoined the Marine Corps and was quickly promoted to the rank of Major and became the Commanding Officer (C.O.) of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 (VMF-214) "Black Sheep". In the Solomon Islands, Boyington claimed 20 aerial victories. Often, he flew F4U Corsair Number 86 or F4U Corsair 17883.



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Mission History
On January 3, 1944 took off at 6:30am piloting F4U Corsair 17915 from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville on a fighter sweep over Rabaul commanding 46 fighters including 8 F4Us from VMF-214, 12 F4Us from VMF-211 and 16 F6F from VF-33. Several planes aborted due to mechanical failures (three from VMF-214).

The fighters reached Rabaul flying from 20,000' to 24,000' spotting Zeros below, they dove to intercept (probably 29 Zeros from the 253 Kōkūtai).  Also, twenty-seven A6M Zeros of the 204th Kōkūtai already in the air, joined the dog fight. Boyington shot down a Zero from dead astern (his 20th victory), send it down and burning, and confirmed by several other witnesses. He and his wingman, F4U Corsair 02723 piloted by Captain George M. Ashmun were overwhelmed and went Missing In Action (MIA). Damaged, Boyington ditched F4U Corsair 17915 into the Saint Georges Channel and was captured by a Japanese submarine and transported to Rabaul.

Prisoner Of War (POW)
Boyington was detained as a Prisoner Of War (POW) at Rabaul. He was interrogated by Japanese interpreter Edward Chikaki Honda (aka "Ed Honda"). On February 17, 1944 Boyington was one of six prisoners loaded aboard G4M1 Betty on a flight to Truk and landed at the beginning of "Operation Hailstone" and took cover as U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft attacked and destroyed the bomber they had just arrived aboard. That night, the prisoners were held in a jail then boarded a L2D Tabby (DC-3) and flown to Saipan then to Japan.

In Japan, Boyington was detained at Omori POW Camp near Toyko until the official surrender of Japan. On August 29, 1945 liberated from captivity. On September 12, 1945 he was last reported at Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) Tokyo Bay Area 35-140 then transported back to the United States to Oakland, California. During late 1945 he had a mustache.

Aerial Victory Claims
Boyington was officially credited with XXXX aerial victories between March 4, 1943 to October 29, 1943. During a two week period between (October 15–29, 1943) O'Neill claimed six of his eight victories. On October 24, 1943 he became an "ace" with five aerial victory claims. All of his victory claims were against Japanese fighter aircraft in the air. In New Guinea, O'Neill earned the nickname "Jump" because he was expert in jumping the enemy, shooting them down and avoiding their return fire. He was often photographed with a cigar.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
1       First aerial victory claim.
2       Second aerial victory claim.
3       Third aerial victory claim.
4       Fourth aerial victory claim.
5       Fifth aerial victory claim, became an "ace".
6       Sixth aerial victory claim.
7       Seventh aerial victory claim.
8       Eighth aerial victory claim.

Awards

In total, Boyington claimed 26 aerial victories in World War II. For his actions between September 12, 1943 until January 3, 1944 he earned the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross.

Medal of Honor Citation (12 September 1943 to 3 January 1944)
Medal of Honor Citation: "For extraordinary heroism and valiant devotion to duty as commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Central Solomons area from 12 September 1943 to 3 January 1944. Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Maj. 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, Maj. Boyington led a formation of 24 fighters over Kahili on 17 October and, persistently circling the airdrome where 60 hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down 20 enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds, Maj. 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."
Postwar
Returning to the United State. On October 7, 1945 he was flown from Washington DC to New York City to participated in the World War II victory parade in New York on October 9, 1945 and for publicity tours. He spoke at the Nimitz Day reception and press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Afterwards, he retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of Colonel and struggled with alcoholism and wrote his autobiography Baa Baa Black Sheep published in 1958. His story was adapted into the television series Baa Baa Black Sheep (Season 1) and Baa Baa Black Sheep (Season 2) where he was portrayed by actor Robert Conrad that aired between 1976-1978. Boyington was technical advisor for the entire series and appeared as fictional Gen. Harrison Kenlay in three episodes and got writing credit for one episode. During the late 1970s and 1980s, he often participated in air shows and events.

Memorials
Boyington passed away on January 11, 1988 from cancer. On January 15, 1988 he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on section 7A, site 150. His eulogy was wrote and delivered by Raymond F. "Hap" Halloran a fellow POW at Omori POW Camp and the pair became lifelong friends.

References

NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Gregory Boyington
Flying Aces "War Flyers In The Headlines" April 1944 page 35
Daily News "Pappy Reveals Japs Had Law Agin Bombing" October 9, 1945 page 10
YouTube "Newsreel "Major Boyington Is Found Alive – August 29, 1945"
Daily News "Heroes Can Look at a Hat... With Eyes on the Future" October 9, 1945 page 20
"(Page 20) "Heroes Can Look at a Hat... With Eyes on the Future - Strolling on Park Ave., Lieut. Col. Greg (Pappy) Boyington (right) and his cellmate in a Jap prison camp, Major Donald Winser Boyle, do some window shopping. Both Marine heroes are at the Waldorf-Astoria for a glimpse of Manhattan life. Pappy has 26 Jap planes to his credit."
Associated Press (AP) "Pappy' Boyington Is Dead at 75; Hero of the Black Sheep Squadron" January 11, 1988
Pacific Air Combat WWII (1993) by Henry Sakaida Chapter 13: The Man Who Did Not Shoot Down Pappy Boyington pages page 74-80
Stars & Bars (1995) pages 72 (VMF-214), 158-159 (Boyington)
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) page 20-21, 23-24
The Black Sheep (2000) pages 335-341
Black Sheep One (2000) pages 306-317
FindAGrave - COL Gregory H. “Pappy” Boyington (photo, grave photo)
Fold3 - Gregory Boyington

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