You may know Adolf Hitler or President Roosevelt, but do you know Gregory “Pappy” Boyington? He may not be as famous as Hitler but he made a difference in WWII. He was a marine pilot.
Gregory R. Boyington was born in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in 1912, to parents of part American Indian ancestry. The partying, "tell it like it is," mocking, Boyington was loved by his assistants and classmates while being hated by some of his superiors. He originally wanted to become a pilot at the age of eight. His first plane ride was from the pilot Clyde Pangborn, who was the first pilot to fly nonstop from the U.S. to Japan in 1931.
Boyington graduated from the University of Washington in 1934. Although he wanted to be a pilot; he graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He was also part of the Huskies swimming and wrestling teams and one year he also was the Northwest Intercollegiate middleweight wrestling champion. After he graduated he served briefly as a reserve officer in the Army’s Coast Artillery. After he did that for about a year he quit, then he joined Boeing Aircraft in Seattle as an aeronautical engineer. In February 1936, Boyington quit his job at Boeing and enrolled in the new Naval Cadet program. Although the cadets are required to be single, the eccentric Gregory was secretly married throughout the flight training. He was married to Helene (unknown last name) who he met in college. Ten months after their after he graduated they had a son, Gregory Clark Boyington.
During his time at the Naval Cadet program Boyington received his wings and commission on March 11, 1937 at training. He served with Aircraft One at Quantico before he went to Basic School in Philadelphia. After the school in Philadelphia he went to San Diego for VMF-2. Being the best pilot he defeated the Navy’s best pilot in the annual gun camera competition. He gained the nickname “Rats” from the similarities of to a cartoon character general Ratoff.
In the summer of 1941 Claire Chennault visited Pensacola to recruit pilots for the American Volunteer Group. He considered that if he...