Photo personally signed by Pappy Boyington
This website is a tribute to dedicated and courageous military men who gave everything they had for their country. I have met several who received the Medal of Honor, many others who made history or changed the fate of the world; men like Paul Tibbets. Dick Bong, Jimmy Doolittle, and many others who all had the same characteristics. They all possessed a strong devotion to duty, a sense of patriotism, love of country, an
outstanding capability in their profession, and a desire to get the job done as directed. I have done considerable research on these men, America is proud to claim "We have the best military men in the world". So now comes the story about "Pappy" Boyington. I read everything I could find concerning him, books, military reports, comments from a multitude of people. Without a doubt he is the most controversial member of our military. I really did not want to do a completely negative report, so I tried to separate his irresponsible acts into two categories: military and private life. This proved impossible as there was no distinction between the two. "Pappy' was a hard drinking, womanizer, short tempered, incapable of handling his finances, his personal life, or even complying with his military commitments. Many books and articles have been put out over the years, some factual, most fictional. For a good biography read Bruce Gamble's "Black Sheep One: the life of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington". It comes pretty close to portraying Boyington as he actually was. It is my opinion that in spite of his flaws, he was a well qualified flyer who made his contribution to the war effort when we needed him. And now the story.

Stories about Pappy Boyington, both factual and fictional, including his own autobiography, have made him the most controversial if not colorful Marine Corps Ace. He served in China as a member of the AVG, American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers. He spent 18 months as a Japanese prisoner of war, was awarded the Medal of Honor, and was acknowledged as the Marine Corps top Ace, which happens to be his most disputed claim. He lived a turbulent personal life of alcohol, women, uncontrolled debt, and conflicts with virtually everyone.

Greg was born Dec.4, 1912, of divorced parents, and an alcoholic step-father. Living in Tacoma, Washington, he became a formidable wrestler. This ability was to bring him many problems as he was quick to challenge anyone to a bout, most times ending with injuries. He started flight training at the Pensacola NAS in 1936, finally graduated after having a difficult time and undergoing numerous flight re-checks. Concerned with marital problems he began his long affair with alcohol. Another problem facing him was his non-payment of loans. Also his official performance suffered. He became completely irresponsible, deep in debt, and faced increasing alcohol problems. He slugged a superior officer, and creditors contacted the Marine Corps in an effort to collect. His life became very difficult. In desperation he applied to join the American Volunteer Group in China. He would be paid more, and would be paid for each Japanese plane destroyed. He liked the idea. However, his world came crashing down on him after his wife left with the children, he was deeply in debt, and had mounting problems with his superiors. The Marine Corps was happy to be rid of him, and recommended that he NOT be reappointed.
Boyington left San Francisco on Sept. 24, 1941, final destination Rangoon. He flew several missions in the defense of Burma. He had a most unusual clash with Claire Chennault, who gave him a dishonorable discharge. He quit the AVG and returned to the U.S.

Boyington claimed he shot down six Japanese fighters while with the AVG. Without any verification and from loosely kept records he was credited with two kills. He was one of four pilots credited with destroying 15 planes on the ground. The AVG paid him for 3.75 ground claims, and adding these to the two previous claims he called it six kills, and established himself as an American Ace. He was continually challenged on his own statistics which now showed 22 kills.
He returned to the States in 1942. The Marines badly needed experienced fighter pilots, and he was reappointed with the rank of Major. He was assigned to VMF-122 as executive officer and immediately clashed with his superior officer. Eventually taking over as the new C.O., he was credited with the six kills from the AVG. In 1943 Boyington was ordered to form a squadron from available men and planes to fly Corsairs. 26 pilots formed the redesignated VMF-214 and became famous as the Black Sheep. In just 84 days they destroyed or damaged 197 planes, sank troop transports and supply ships. From Sept. 1943 to Jan. 1944 Boyington destroyed a reported 22 Japanese aircraft. The six with the AVG still questionable.


On Jan. 3, 1944, Boyington took off from Bougainville. He and his wing man, Captain George Ashmun were involved with enemy fighters and were jumped by 20 planes from above. George's plane, on fire, crashed in the water, and Boyington's main gas tank burst into flames. Landing in the water badly injured, he was captured by a Japanese submarine that took him to Rabaul. He was beaten during interrogation, finally moved to a prison camp near Yokohama. He suffered many more beatings, lost 80 pounds and was near starvation. When he was repatriated after 18 months as a POW he learned he had been awarded the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He claimed two more planes shot down, however we will probably never know the actual number.

Boyington, always a ladies man, continually mixed up with divorces and marriages, frequently drunk, always plagued with unpaid debts, became a PR liability to the Marine Corps. They retired him in 1947. He had problems holding a job, periodically refereeing wrestling matches. In the mid seventies the television program Baa Baa Black Sheep appeared. It ran for three years, however by portraying Boyington as a hero and the other pilots a bunch of misfits destroyed the friendship between him and many of the squadron veterans.

Greg Boyington's controversial life ended in 1988 after a long bout with cancer.

Written by Wayland Mayo, website historian. Sources include
large amount of material collected over the years.

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