AKA Gregory Boyington
Birthplace: Coeur D'Alene, ID
Location of death: Fresno, CA
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Race or Ethnicity: Multiracial
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: World War II flying ace
Military service: US Marine Corps (1936-41, 43-47, to Colonel)
Gregory Boyington earned a degree in automotive engineering, then joined the US Marine Corps, where he spent several years as a flight instructor. His career floundered amidst a series of drunken brawls, and he avoided a dishonorable discharge by quitting to become a "Flying Tiger" pilot -- basically, a mercenary for the Chinese Air Force -- in the Second Sino-Japanese War. He had six confirmed kills while flying for the Chinese, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor he encountered bureaucratic obstacles as he tried to return to the Marine Corps. He was eventually reinstated and assigned to command a unit of replacement pilots at Espiritu Santo airfield in the New Hebrides. There Boyington organized his pilots into an attack squadron that took down 94 enemy fighters, including 22 downed by Boyington himself, making him the Marines' top fighting ace of WWII (if his Chinese kills are included). His nickname 'Pappy' came from being about a decade older than virtually all the other pilots. His unit was informally called Boyington's Bastards, but when reporters inquired the group was re-named the more palatable "Black Sheep squadron".
Boyington's airborne heroics ended when his plane was shot down on 3 January 1944, and he spent the war's last twenty months in Japanese prisons. The Japanese never reported his capture, and he was assumed to have been killed in action and "posthumously" awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. After the war Boyington became famous as the war hero who returned from the dead, and he spoke out against leniency toward the Japanese who had, he said, tortured him. His best-selling memoirs were published in 1958, and he sold the rights to television in the 1970s, where his heroics were heavily fictionalized in the series Baa Baa, Black Sheep starring Robert Conrad.
Father: Charles Boyington (garage worker)
Mother: Grace Gregory Boyington (switchboard operator, m. 1912)
Father: Ellsworth Hallenbeck (stepfather)
Wife: Helene (div., three children)
Wife: Dolores Boyington (div. one adopted child)
Son: Gregory Boyington Jr.
Daughter: Janet Boyington
High School: Lincoln High School, Tacoma, WA (1930)
University: BS Aeronautical Engineering, University of Washington (1934)
Congressional Medal of Honor
World War II Victory Medal
Taken Prisoner of War
Boeing Draftsman (1934-35)
Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity
Risk Factors: Emphysema
Author of books:
Baa Baa, Black Sheep (1958, memoir)
Tonya (1960, novel)
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