TCS Daily


Man Without Honor

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - February 17, 2006 12:00 AM

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).

Ahem.

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 alumnus of UW, you should be pissed or ashamed or both.

If you are not an alumnus 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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24 Comments

The Bigger Picture - Subsidized Idiocy
As appalling as this particular incident is, it is only a tiny part of the problem, one that has existed for decades and was first chronicled in God and Man at Yale. I first experienced it in 1980, the day after Ronald Reagan was elected-where I had to endure a class long tirade from an English professor. Theoretically, the individual was supposed teaching Freshman Rhetoric and Composition-instead, we were treated to his personal vitriol. (Can you imagine any other service provider that would feel similarly immune to discipline, when delivering personal viewpoints instead of the paid for service?)

This past summer, I had the opportunity to see exactly what the price of an "invaluable" college education costs. Naive young kids, sold on the idea that four years constitutes entitled enlightment, willingly stap on six figure debt loads, to be amortized over 20 years. If you pursue the tradionally lucrative professions, medicine or law-you'll be ok. Nursing, Engineering and IT are among the 4 year grads that might do fine, however the payoff might be quicker but not as deep. If on the other hand you are pursuing a degree in psychology, social work you are doomed. Even if you start at 45-50K (high in some areas of the country, paltry in others), your 700-1000+/month rent, 400 car payment and 300/month suck up your income in a hurry.

So in spite of the fact that we are supposed to have constitutionally abolished indentured servitude, we now have a system where the "education" process requires our young to become human annuities to support an arrogant and insular class of people divorced from reality or effort.

But of course, they'll get even more Federal, state and local support in the next fiscal year budgets. Too bad we can't make these idiots actually do some work for a living, they'd have less time for trying to impose their fantasies and fallacies on the rest of us who are laboring.

Tell us where to send send bronze and money
We can get the address for letters to the university president online

Absolutely Appalling
As a former Marine, I would love to walk into a meeting like that and turn the table over on them. What in the world have we done to deserve such people? What needs to be done is send them to Iraq and leave them. Let them learn what freedom is really about. I plan to send a message to the President of this school. It probably will not do any good as will be screened from him. Any opposition to such tripe as mine will be erased off the screen and the President never knows. Something like this makes me hot under the collar.

Ticked Alumnus
I AM a UW alumnus and I AM ashamed. I also went through the experience undergraduate & graduate school on campus from 1969 to 1972, after being discharged from the Navy. Gee, why do you suppose I've never joined the alumni association, and why do you suppose I'm just not interested when the UW comes calling for donations? You'd think that the regents would at least figure out that this kind of nonsense doesn't help them any with their fund-raising.

Ignorance, self-importance, and piety...
...the three Graces of contemporary society.

What a difference a generation makes
Last night I saw this on the news and was completely appalled - mostly at the ignorance of history by the very people who espouse to know it well enough to impart it to others.

It was also pointed out that there is a monument to Communism on the school campus. Perhaps the monument to Pappy Boyington should be place directly next to it.

As I approach 50, I hate to sound like older people when they comment on the young. But, in this case, as I watched some of the students question and disparage the stellar civilian and military life of Pappy Boyington I couldn't help but think they don't make them like they used to.

There were some good legacies to the 60s, but it's time for a change in how we think about ourselves and our culture in a truly intellectual and critical, not Hollywood-esque fashion. Sadly, while watching some of the young people express their opinions diminishing Boyington's exceptional life, I got a pit in stomach when thinking about who it was that raised and educated them.

A solution?
Write to the School Senate. Point out that Pappy was a Native American with conflicted feelings over his loyalty to the crushing of his (Sioux) Nation.

They’ll build the biggest statue in the north west, guaranteed.

The REAL Pappy Boyington
The author writes well and is very passionate about his his subject but his info on Pappy Boyington is far from the truth and in fact quite inaccurate. Boyington made what is called a fradulent enlistment to get into the Marines. He lied about his identity and family status. During his service before the start of WWII he became a hardcore alcholic and ran up a string on bad debts/checks across the country that became an embarassment to the entire Marine Corps. He saw the Flying Tigers has a way to make a lot of money fast hopefully to get his debts under control. But, the Marines saw it has a way to get rid of him. In essence he abandoned his family. Boyington was the ONLY officer with a regular commision allowed to join the AVG. While with the Flying Tigers he was usually drunk and many times was that way on duty and also flew that way wrecking a number of planes in the process. He was never a squadron leader in the AVG but rather a vice-squadron leader. A position he was fired from. He didn't scored 6 air kills in China only 2 and none before Dec. 7, 1941 has stated. The AVG didn't meeet the Japanese in combat until late Dec. 1941 and Boyington long after that in 1942.
He recieved a dishonorable discharge from the AVG and shacked up with a married women named Lucy Malcomson (who's he named that Corsair has ie "Lucybelle" not "Lulubelle" has he later tried to claim) on his way home jilting her to many another women after the war. His victories are questionable has is his conduct has a POW.
The author should be incensed at the actions and words of a few UW student gov't members. But the insult is against all veterans not just Pappy Boyington. In regards to Pappy Boyington, there is a real need to separate the Black Sheep Squadron TV show version from the real version and I suggest the author do a little more research on his subject matter.

Pappy Boyington
I wrote the UW President and expressed by dissappointment
at the pervasive leftist, socialistic, and antimilitary
atmosphere at my alma mater, the UW.... and also why I am now sending my kids to other universities. I got the automatic reply to my inquiry that it's not the school's fault that the students rejected the honor and a denial that the universtiy is biased against the military. The one comment is lame and the other not true.

Locally KVI 570 and KTTH 770 AM radio stations have
put a lot of focus on this, otherwise I wouldn't have known about the situation.

Thanks for the coverage,

Karla

Oh Yeah
Touche. How well you understand us Tim.

u-du(m)b
I'm also an alum of the UW, but I'm not surprised by the Boyington incident. Since graduating from there in the early 70s, I've spent the next 30+ years in the Army, and just got back from another deployment. If the current crop in the student senate could have talked with the current crop in the jihad, as I have for the last year, they might evaluate the task of killing our enemies in a different light.
What does Thom Gunn say about the Boyington statue?

Black Sheep Version
Black Sheep Squadron TV show version from the real version

As I recall, the character played by Robert Conrad was in fact an avaricious, womanizing, alcoholic, insubordinate individual, often dishonest and operating with conduct unbecoming an officer. I cannot approve of those traits, but I'm pretty sure a few years ago when they were exhibited by one William Jefferson Clinton, we were told that those were personal defects that posed no impediment to the effective, efficient and faithful execution of the duties entailed in his sworn oath of office. Boyington and most if not all witnesses to his conduct have been claimed by death, so unless he was charged with something and convicted, stripped of rank and honor -I think its fair to consider that he had some shortcomings, but not to belabor or itemize them.

What is recorded is that he did operate with some effectiveness in the South Pacific, apparently obtaining some value from individuals who otherwise would've been spending more time in the brig, than in the cockpit of Corsairs. We owe some gratitude for his service, despite whatever extracurriculars he might have engaged in-and can no longer account for in this realm. There is something to be said for the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead.

By the way, the portrayal of BAA BAA BLACKSHEEP (the title was changed in syndication) was accurate enough to be used by the History Channel. I remember the show well, when it ran against "Laverne and Shirley" on Tuesdays and I was forced to watch the latter, because BLACK SHEEP appeared to condone 5 or 6 capital sins. It was not a sterilized, pollyannish view of Boyington in any way.

THE AUTHOR REPLIES
I am well aware of Pappy Boyington's considerable "warts," which are well known, but I did not feel that they needed to be aired again in this short article. His Medal of Honor and other citations and the after action reports pertinent to them speak for themselves. There are many men and women who have had shining moments in their lives, however dreary or embarrassing or even shameful was the long balance of time before and after. I am of course aware that the "insult" is to all veterans, which, along with the earnest and pathetic ignorance of the UW students, is the is the real point of the story. I read Boyington's biography long ago, along with some air clearing critiqes of it. I have never seen the TV show "Baa Baa Blacksheep." Pappy Boyington had more rough edges than most, perhaps, but I think a statue honoring his military service would not be out of place.

Boyington
I remember talking with a friend about illness and how we used to see paralyzed polio victims in wheelchairs. My friends teenager asked "What's polio", forgetting her own vaccinations. It brought a tear to my eye. We explained what polio was. Who Jonas Salk was.

Much the same problem here. There's a level of ignorance that is forgivable. If the student government has a chance to read up on Boyington and then still refuses to honor him, well I'd say they've got their head up their butts and their foot in their mouth -- at the same time. Maybe they'll meet and kick themselves in the head.

And another thing
When did the deans, chancellors, provosts and the rest the way too smug, self-important ADULTS BEING PAID WAY TO MUCH to run the University turn over their responsibilities to student government?

Another fine piece.
People should never forget that our easy life does not in fact come easy.

Students without a moral Compass
These students only serve to demonstrate once again why people who are wet behind the ears aren't fit to be used as anything other than filler at third rate academic institutions. It would be interesting to see the accomplishments of these "distinguished" senators. I bet their biggest claim to fame is being able to get up in time for that tough 9 AM class in movie appreciation.

This would be funny if it wasn't so sad. What chimps.

Student Government
A SG isn't necessarily a bad thing. It does get someone some limited experience. But now, we are getting kids on college that have lived most of their COGNATIVE life in a state of war. They were either in high school or just beginnign when 9/11 hit, and have seen a war being waged since.

Both a war against terror, and a war against America. (http://www.zombietime.com)

I'd liek to see the details of the student senate. What their majors are, the classes, types of prof's, groups or frats they belong to... And how this plays out. Will she be rejected out fo hand, or have a (hopefully) civilized debate?

One thing they don't seem to realize is that Pappy helped preserve her freedom to voice that viewpoint.

-- SSgt, USMC-R

Contrast Wisconsin
Here in Wisconsin, there's a museum for Richard Bong, America's top WWII ace. For a while only the VFW boys kept it going, (along with a mounted P38,) but the folks in Superior now have a nice museum for Richard. They also named a bridge to Minnesota for him, and an airfield in Superior.

Although the kids in Madison probably don't understand, the country people in Wisconsin do.

If you believe Pappy deserves better, you're welcome to come to Wisconsin.

If you think it's horrible that Pappy had to kill people, please stay in the Northwest. That's about as far away from Wisconsin as you can get, but probably not really far enough.

Boyington Discredited
Commenter Fugari fails miserably in his attempt to discredit both Boyington and the author. His ad hominem attack on the former is especially repugnant. Boyington did not win the Medal of Honor for being an eagle scout, an altar boy, or for comabat action as an AVG contract employee. He won it as a member of the USMC for splashing some 26 enemy planes during air-to-air combat in the Pacific. I would point out also that, unlike Fugari and some students at the University of Washington, the USMC thought highly of Boyington. This explains why the "embarrassed" Corps made Boyington a major and later promoted him to lieutenant colonel. Finally, if seeing more combat than anyone ever should have to was not enough, Boyington spent 2 years as a POW of the Japanese. Thank God for men such as Boyington. Thank God.

About the black sheep
Anyone interested in the real story of the black sheep should read "Once They Were Eagles: The Men of the Black Sheep Squadron" Written by the squadron's intelligence officer it describes the tour, and has vignettes of the members. (then and after.) It really describes the squadron.

A Response to the UW SG
What's the use of having a Republican President, a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate if we can't cut off all federal funds to an institution like UW that lets its Little Marxists run the asylum? Oh, wait. . . we can. And, by the way, no more federal government business for any large aerospace contractor in the area who might be thinking about softening the blow for the university.

man without honor
I think the students and staff at UW should be ashamed of themselves. They are the same ones that will sympathize with the talibans and osama bin ladens, saying that they were only defending themselves from the big bad USA. He was a great hero of WWII along with many others. To take away what he did and what he stood for is nothing short of disrespect, the same disrespect they would show any other war mongering US Soldier or Marine. Being aan Army Infantry vet myself I think it is slanderous to not tell what the man did and accomplished. To keep it s secret from their little world on campus. And lastly, they are the same ones that would yell and scream if the Major or another Vet was not there to make sure they had the freedom to go to that school. thanks

History?
Perhaps these students (who obviously live at the center of the universe!) should take a history class (I assume they teach that at UW) and learn of the sacrifices people such as Boyington made before making the assumption that they pack the intellectual goods to participate in any government, student or otherwise.

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