Episode No. 97: Pappy Boyington
Date: February 12, 2010
A conversation with Kevin Gonzalez (USMC) on his film about Pappy Boyington.
About the Guest
served a four-year enlistment in the U. S. Marine Corps, and then graduated from the University of Southern California.
He is the writer, producer and director of Pappy Boyington Field: A Campaign to Honor a Hero.
the FilmKevin Gonzalez says of the film, “Strap into the cockpit for an inspirational story about
duty, honor, and courage. “Pappy Boyington Field” tells the story of the grass-roots effort to honor a WWII Hero
in the town of his birth. For many years a controversy brewed over the proposal to add a commemorative
name to an airfield in a small town in Idaho. The film follows members of the community who battled against the bureaucracy,
and weaves in their stories during the campaign. "Pappy" Boyington was born in Coeur d'Alene,
Idaho in 1912, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his exemplary service during WWII. Personal insights
into Pappy Boyington’s life are provided by his son Greg Boyington Jr., as well as actor Robert Conrad who portrayed
Pappy in the television series “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Aerial film footage of the vintage F4U Corsair is showcased,
as well as Jet aircraft flown by today's Marine Corps fighter pilots. Additionally, the music of The United
States Marine Band “The President’s Own” is featured in the film.”
Pappy BoyingtonAccording to the website www.pappboyingtonfield.com, “Gregory Boyington was born in Coeur
d’Alene, Idaho on December 4, 1912. He spent his childhood in the northern panhandle of Idaho, and
eventually his mother moved to Tacoma, WA and later he graduated from Lincoln High School. He attended
the University of Washington, where he graduated with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. He would then go on to work for
the Boeing Company as a draftsman and engineer.
would eventually enter the U.S. Marine Corps, and after completion of the Officer Training he went on to flight training. He possessed natural abilities
that distinguish him in the cockpit early on, but his lifestyle was not without controversy.
Boyington was offered a position with a group that
would eventually become the American
Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers. He resigned his commission in the Marine Corps and set off to China
to fly against the Japanese. At the outbreak of WWII, after making his way back from China, he managed
to return to the Marine Corps with a Major’s commission. As he was already an experienced fighter pilot with victories
against the Japanese, his skills were much needed in the war effort. From Guadalcanal he would eventually
assume command of a group of pilots who were not already assigned to a squadron, and they would go on to be known as the “Black
Sheep Squadron”. Because he was older than the other pilots, they would call him “Gramps” and eventually
that let to “Pappy” and it stuck. (He was 31 years old).
The Black Sheep Squadron amassed an impressive record
of victories against the Japanese. Pappy Boyington was credited with 26 victories, until he was himself shot down over the
Pacific and captured by the Japanese. He spent 20 months as a Prisoner of War, and was listed as Missing in Action for the
duration of the war. Upon his liberation from the prison camp at the end of the war, he returned stateside and was greeted
as a hero. The paperwork for his award of the Medal of Honor was already working through the system when
he was shot down, it would be approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With his status listed as missing
and presumed dead, his award was held in the capitol until the end of the war.”