Marine Corps Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington was one of the most decorated pilots in World War II. He is best known for leading the Black Sheep Squadron, a group of misfits and rogues who became one of the Marines' most feared and respected units. Pappy was a larger-than-life figure, and his story is one of courage, determination, and patriotism.
In this post we'll discuss his impressive career as a fighter pilot in World War II and explore his honors. So without further ado, let's get started!
Pappy was born on December 4, 1912, in Idaho, then he cruised with his family to St. Maries (Logging Town) when he was at the age of three and lived there until age 12. Then they pushed to Tacoma, Washington, where he stood as a wrestler at Lincoln High School.
He made his maiden flight with Clyde Pangborn at St. Maries at the small age of 6. Clyde Pangborn was the first pilot to make a non-stop flight over the Pacific Ocean.
He made his graduation from High School in 1930. Then he regarded the University of Washington, located in Seattle, where he became a constituent of the ROTC Army and was hooked with the Lambda Chi Alpha community.
He joined the hoarse wrestling and swimming groups, and for a time, he owned the wrestling title of the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiate middleweight. Spending his summers laboring in a mining camp in Washington and with Fire Protective Association in road construction at Idaho, he graduated in 1934 in aeronautical engineering with a bachelor's degree. Gregory Boyington wedded after graduation and operated as a draftsperson and engineer for Boeing in Seattle.
Boyington started his military activity in college as a constituent of the ROTC Army and became a cadet captain. In June 1934, he had commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Artillery Reserve of U.S. Army Coast. He then operated with the 630th Coast Artillery with two months of the active task at Fort Worden, Washington.
In 1935, he devoted himself to flight training beneath the act of Aviation Cadet, but he realized that it excluded wedded men. Boyington was raised Gregory Hallenbeck and supposed that his stepfather, Ellsworth J. Hallenbeck, was his father.
When he received a replica of his birth certificate, he knew that his father was Charles Boyington, and his parents had divorced when he was a newborn.
There was no history of Gregory Boyington ever being wedded in the military record, and he registered as an aviation cadet in U.S. Marine Corps utilizing that name.
U.S. Marine Corps Career
On June 13, 1935, he moved to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was replaced on an inactive job on July 16. On February 18, 1936, Gregory Boyington obtained and accepted a selection as a flying cadet in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was transferred to Naval Air Station at Pensacola for flight practicum. He was released from the Marine Corps Reserve in July 1937 to obtain a second lieutenant's commission in the Marine Corps.
Boyington followed The Basic School from July 1938 to January 1939 in Philadelphia. He took an interest in fleet difficulties off the aircraft transports, USS Lexington and USS Yorktown. Advanced to the first lieutenant in November 1940, Boyington came back to Pensacola as a professor in December.
Return To The Marine Corps
On September 29, 1942, he entered the Marine Corps again and accepted a major's commission. The Marine Corps required experienced fighting pilots, and at the start of 1943, he was appointed to Group 11 Marine Aircraft of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
While appointed to VMFA-122, Greg Boyington fired down no opponent aircraft. From July to August 1943, he supervised Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112.
He became a commanding official of Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (VMF-214) in September 1943, reasonably known by its nickname, the "Black Sheep Squadron."
During times of extreme activity in the Russell Islands and Bougainville-New Britain-New Ireland locations, he hit down 14 rival fighter planes in 32 days.
By December 27, 1943, his record had risen to 25. He was a determined fighter and a superb airman with extraordinary heroism having brilliant command.
A specific feat was his raid on Kahili airdrome at the southern end of Bougainville on October 17, 1943. He and 24 combatants circled the area, where 60 aggressive aircraft were founded, goading the Japanese shipping up a large force.
In the vicious battle, 20 hostile aircraft were shot down, while the Black Sheep yielded to their base without losing.
Major Japanese planes were unable to beat these flying tigers, and enemy Japanese forces looked helpless in front of this south pacific major Boyington.
On January 3, 1944, he was connected with World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker's history of 26 hostile planes eliminated before being hit down.
On that task, 48 American fighter pilots, including 4 aircraft from the Black Sheep Squadron, were dispatched on a sweep over Rabaul, Boyington was a tactical leader of aviation and came over the target at 8:00 AM.
He was caught shooting down his 26th airliner, but he became cross in the broad melee of dogfighting aircraft and was not seen or heard from during the battle, nor did he come back with his marine fighting squadron. In later years, Masajiro "Mike" Kawato argued to have been the pilot who fired down Major Boyington. He explained the combat in two books and multiple public impressions, but this declaration was ultimately "disproven," though Kawato recounted his tale until his death.
Post War Active Duty
Soon after his retrieval to the U.S., as a lieutenant colonel, Boyington was summoned to Washington to accept the nation's highest military honor—the Medal of Honor—from the president. The award had been awarded in March 1944 by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt and kept in the capital until he could accept it. On October 4, 1945, Boyington accepted the Navy Cross from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Following the ticket of his Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, Boyington created a Victory Bond Tour. Initially called to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, he was subsequently directed to declare to the commanding general, Marine Corps Air Station, California, Miramar, San Diego. He got retired from the Marine Corps on August 1, 1947. He was especially praised for the performance of duty in a real war; he was stimulated to colonel.
Later Life Of Pappy BoyingtonBoyington was a harsh, hard-living character understood for being strange. He was also a serious drinker, which swarmed him in the years after the battle and possibly donated to his numerous divorces. He freely confessed that during the 2 years he disbursed as a P.O.W. his health was enhanced because of the enforced solemnity. He worked civilian jobs, including refereeing and partaking in skilled wrestling matches.
Greg Boyington authored his autobiography, Baa Baa Black Sheep, posted in 1958. He penned a story about the American Volunteer Group (AKA as the flying tigers). Tonya is a spy story with symbols based on real people, numerous of them with names emanated by transposing the syllables of the terms of the individuals who encouraged them.
Pappy Boyington Quotes
As Boyington also served as an author, he had many beautiful sayings. Some of them are given below.
“Chesty” Puller told me* years ago, and there is only a hairline’s difference between a Navy Cross and a general court-martial.”
“I have never been brave, but most of the things for which I had been given credit for bravery were nothing but daredevil stunts. I was trying to build up my ego, imitating the bravery of people I had read about or had been told about in the years gone by.”
“A word of advice to you men. Many times in your Marine Corps career, you feel like resigning. But don’t forget: one son of a bitch or four or five cannot ruin the Corps.”
"Show me a hero, and I will show you a bum"
Do check out our Pappy Boyington Vintage Aviation Sign for Home or Pilot Club, a homage to one of the greatest fighter pilots ever.
In the end, Gregory Boyington was a hero not just because of his impressive record in combat but also because of his ability to overcome adversity and inspire others. He was a courageous pilot who never gave up, even when the odds were stacked against him. His heroism and dedication will continue to inspire many people for years to come.
Thanks for following along on this journey through the life of Greg Boyington. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. As you may have noticed we at ASJ are huge fans of Pappy Boyington and his contribution to aerial forces during the war.
Today’s aviators know little about these kind of men and how they have stood out and increased combat readiness of today’s military. A lot of information has been gathered and used to improve combat and combat readiness in heavily defended hostile territory as we know it today in a vitally strategic area, along with his record of destroying Japanese aircraft.
Over the course of time, there certainly has been no one that has been so influential in fighters shot as well as a very unique commanding officer. Pappy Boyington was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1988.