OK, So Here's The Deal...

A Marine Major, Running Fool, and All-Around Smart-Ass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Hope They Don't Make Me Choose

This really pissed me off.

Man Without Honor

Greg Hallenbeck was like many men of his generation. He had to work hard to get a good start in life. A tough, stocky kid, part Sioux Indian, he managed to get to the University of Washington in the teeth of the Great Depression.

By that time his parents were separated. His mother helped him through school by working as a switch board operator in Tacoma, Wash. To pick up the rest of the financial slack he had to work all his spare hours at various jobs. During the summers he worked in a gold mine in Idaho, his home state.

If the work was a burden, Greg didn't show it. He realized that his university education was a privilege and he took full advantage of it. He signed up for ROTC, made the university wrestling and swimming teams, joined a fraternity and graduated four years later (1934) with a degree in aeronautical engineering.

With his Army ROTC commission he served with the Coast Artillery Reserve in Washington state. Meanwhile, he had been fortunate enough to land a job as a draftsman at Boeing Aircraft, in Tacoma, after graduation. He loved airplanes and he wanted to fly.
And fly he did. Into history.

He joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1936 as an aviation cadet. He got his wings in 1937 and accepted a commission in the regular Marine Corps later that year. By 1940, he was at Pensacola Naval Air Station as a flight instructor, as the clouds of World War II loomed ever closer to the United States.

Greg didn't wait for the war. He went to it. He joined the American Volunteer Group, later known as the famed Flying Tigers, to help defend China against Japan. In his military career since graduation he had become known not by his stepfather's name, Hallenbeck, but by his father's name, Boyington.

By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Greg Boyington was a Flying Tiger squadron commander who had already shot down six Japanese planes over China.
No time for details here. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington became a legend fast. He was dubbed Pappy by the younger pilots of his famed "Black Sheep" fighter squadron because of his "advanced" age. He was, after all, 31, and most of them were in their young 20s.

Pappy Boyington led by example in the air war over various Pacific islands. During one period, in 1943, he shot down 14 Japanese planes in 32 days. On October 17, 1943, Pappy led a force of 24 Marine fighters over the Japanese fighter base at Kahili, on the island of Bougainville. They circled the base repeatedly, daring the 60 Japanese fighters on the field to come up. When the Japanese responded, Pappy's boys shot down 20 of them before scooting back to base without losing a plane.

He displayed extraordinary leadership, extraordinary acumen as a pilot, and extraordinary courage, no matter what the odds against him. On January 3, 1944, during a huge fighter action over Rabaul, Pappy shot down his 28th Japanese plane and was himself shot down in the wild aerial melee.

Unseen by his fellow pilots, he bailed out, dropped into the ocean, and was soon picked up by a Japanese submarine. The Japanese did not report his capture and while he spent 20 months of torture and near starvation in prisoner of war camps, he was listed by the U.S. as missing in action.

In March 1944, Boyington was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His comrades thought it was a posthumous decoration. But Pappy survived the prison camp, was freed at the end of the war, and stood in the White House on October 5, 1945, still recovering from the physical and psychological effects of his imprisonment, as President Harry S Truman draped the nation's highest award for bravery around his neck.

Flash forward 61 years. A move is afoot, naturally enough, one would think, to honor Greg Boyington, Class of 1934, at his alma mater, the University of Washington. A resolution comes before the august Student Senate for a statue honoring the Medal of Honor winner. Not "a large statue, but rather something on a small scale" (according to the minutes of the senate).

A distinguished "Senator," Jill Edwards moves to table the matter. Discussion ensues on who this Boyington is and why he should be honored. One student says he had read about Boyington and thought the university should be proud of him.

Distinguished Senator Jill Edwards questions "whether it was appropriate to honor a person who killed other people."

She further wonders whether "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

Another distinguished Senator, Ashley Miller, "commented that many monuments at UW already commemorate rich white men."

Student Senator Karl Smith casts some oil on the troubled waters by suggesting that the resolution honoring Boyington be stripped of any mention of "destroying 26 enemy aircraft." Perhaps, in this way, Colonel Boyington's "service" could be acknowledged, but "not his killing of others."

Discussion then ensues on the finer point that "a destroyed aircraft was not necessarily indicative that a pilot had died."

We will spare you the rest of the deliberations and ruminations of the UW student legislative body, filled as it is with pious parsing and handwringing and ahistorical thumbsucking over how to mention that embarrassing Medal of Honor in some way that would leave no trail back to the fact that it was won in a war, where killing took place, to stop an aggressor bent on subjugating at least one half of the globe.

If you are an alumni of UW, you should be pissed or ashamed or both.

If you are not an alumni you should at least be embarrassed at the fact that this kind of "thinking" is too, too normal from the present generation of college students (and professors) all over this country.

Fortunately, Pappy Boyington did not live to see this pathetic half-lit circus on his old campus. He died January 11, 1988. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with the highest military honors of the nation for which he fought with such skill and bravery. He is much more a credit to UW than all the bright young things who now populate its Student Senate.

Ralph Bennett is a TCS contributing editor.

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  • At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Peggy said…

    Thank you for the background on Boyington. He continues to be a shining hero for this nation, if not for ignorant WashU student body members.

  • At 5:59 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    I found out more about this situaiton and will be posting it soon.

  • At 6:13 PM, Blogger O! said…

    Sorry to hear about this...Being from the most liberal state in this country, I feel your pain...

  • At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Lily said…

    Can you use your UW connection (not WashU, er hem) to register your dismay? That seems so unbelieavably PC and stupid. Ironically, out here (Seattle), that hasn't been covered much at all. I have read about it on the Web a bunch, though, probably with all the military blogs. Yak.

  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Ryan said…

    I love learning, unfortunately it must occur in the midst of an attitude and mindset so liberal and blind. Luckily I don't really leave the Civil Engineering offices at a fairly conservative university and labs where most people are either conservative or apolitical... at very least respectful.
    Here at LSU we have a dorm name Lejune Hall. Thats the least he deserves.

  • At 7:07 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    Wow...this kind of crap is just getting more and more insane. It scares me to think what needs to happen for these people to wake the hell up.

  • At 10:48 PM, Blogger Ghostrider said…

    I first read about this on the MarineOCS board, and of course everyone there is absolutely livid. I would be VERY interested in ANY updates you can provide Capt. G. It really pains me to know that these idiots are part of my generation and are included as "peers". This is why hippie freaks should not have fucking children and raise them to spew this ignorant ass shit. They have no fucking clue the ammount of good that man did for our country, the morale boost that came via news reels of Pappy Boyington and his black sheep squadron scoring victories, and fighting the good fight. This boils me down to my core to think there are people this clouded by liberal hippie bullshit. Col. Boyington deserves much more than a statue of "small scale". This is so completely and utterly asinine, these kids don't deserve to live in this country.

  • At 5:42 AM, Anonymous Dan said…

    Unsat!! Totally UNSAT!!!

  • At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Ray Young said…

    Boyington like all men had flaws, the way I have read it, his major flaw was alcahol. HOWEVER, that doesn't detract from the fact that he was a Marine who didn't wait to be called. He found a line and stood on it, saying YOU WILL NOT PASS. He led from the front, doing to the best of his ability what he was able to do in a time of war. If those piss-ant, petty, self-important little twits think for a minute that fighting a war to protect the homes and freedoms that were paid for in BLOOD many times over is bad, then it is my strongest hope that they NEVER find themselves in a position of authority where their BAD JUDGEMENT can lose us those freedoms.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    O!: how i made it through that school as an active duty Sergeant, I don't know.

    Lily: like I had hoped, the NROTC led the charge.

    Ryan: and to have his name spelled right (Lejeune) (snicker)

    Ghost, read the next entry.

  • At 1:45 AM, Blogger Ryan said…


    When have you ever know me to spell anything right? Well, I suppose if I'm going to spell somethign right, it had goddamned better be those to whom i owe respect, such as the Colonel and the General.

  • At 5:04 AM, Blogger Viper said…

    Yeah, or "something."

    Sorry, this is the kettle calling the pot black. At least you comment (hairy eyeball to you readers who just take take take and never give....)

  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger Jessica said…

    Great minds think alike, I just ranted about this the other day on my blog.

    You know I work in a university atmosphere, it pains me greatly that young people can be so stupid. But hey they didn't get there all by themselves, you can lay the blame at mommy and daddy's doorstep, that's where the ignorance begins!

  • At 5:38 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    How many times have I seen stupid behavior and made a mental note to slap my kid blind if they ever do such things?

    I agree with you Jess, we got 18 years to steer the boat before we send them out to sea.

    Actually less, more like 13 becasue by then, you ahd better done your work because the teenage years are a bad time to start.

  • At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Ray Young said…

    I think you're on the right track but your totally optimistic. . .13 years? My son is comming up on six and I get this stange feeling that he thinks he knows everything and my only purpose in life is to insure he has enough junkfood and television handy for him to access; and I don't even let him eat much junkfood or watch much television, so that should really say something about it.

  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    You had better take them away for a week to show that you have the power, and the fortitude, to do it.

    Or take them camping and have them do the work to try to get them to see how hard surviving is without all the luxaries.


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