Military Aviation

VMFA-214 Black Sheep F-35B Lightning II strike fighters visit hometown of fighter ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington

VMFA-214 Black Sheep F-35B Lightning II strike fighters visit hometown of fighter ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington

Four US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B Lightning II strike fighters from VMFA-214 soared across the Coeur d’Alene Airport on Jun. 17, 2023, as the video in this post shows. Coeur d’Alene is the hometown of World War II ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, who was also the commanding officer of VMF-214 Black Sheep during the conflict.

As reported by FOX28, the public was invited to come and see them up close. The F-35Bs were parked from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. at the Aviation and Maintenance ramp, where Marines presented them to the public.

“Our original CO was Pappy Boyington in World War Two,” Soaker, a USMC F-35B pilot, said. “So obviously [the] hometown of Pappy Boyington. And so, the Marine Corps League invited us up so we can see our squadron’s heritage.”

Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, commander of Marine Corp fighter squadron VMF-214 (“Black Sheep”) in the cockpit of his aircraft.

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Marine Corps Ace credited with the destruction of 28 Japanese aircraft, was awarded the Medal of Honor “for extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty” while in command of a Marine Fighting Squadron in the Central Solomons Area from Sep. 12, 1943 to Jan. 3, 1944. He also received the Navy Cross and numerous other honors for his combat actions.

Gregory Boyington was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Dec. 4, 1912. According to Alert 5, Coeur d’Alene is a city located in the northern part of Idaho, known for its beautiful lake and scenic surroundings. Boyington grew up in Coeur d’Alene and attended high school there before pursuing his higher education at the University of Washington in Seattle.

He started his military career while still attending college and was designated a Naval Aviator on Mar. 11, 1937 and on Jul. 2, 1937 was designated second lieutenant in the USMC.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lighning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

Boyington resigned his commission in the Marine Corps on Aug. 26, 1941 to accept a position with the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company. CAMCO was a civilian organization formed for the protection of the Burma Road. The unit later became known as the American Volunteer Group, the famed “Flying Tigers” of China. During his months with the “Tigers,” he became a squadron commander and shot down six Japanese planes to secure an appreciable lead over other American aces who didn’t get into the fight until after Dec. 7, 1941. He flew 300 combat hours before the AVG disbanded.

During World War II, Boyington earned the nickname “Pappy” because, at the age of 31, he was considered one of the older pilots in his squadron. Boyington initially served with VMF-122 in the Pacific theater but gained fame and recognition when he took command of VMF-214 in September 1943.

According to Marine Corps University, during the intense activity in the Russell Islands-New Georgia and Bougainville-New Britain-New Ireland areas added to his total almost daily. During his squadron’s first tour of combat duty, Maj Boyington personally shot down 14 enemy fighter planes in 32 days. On Dec. 17, 1943, he headed the first Allied fighter sweep over impregnable Rabaul. By Dec. 27 his record was 25. He tied the then-existing American record of 26 planes on Jan. 3, 1944 when he shot down another fighter over Rabaul.

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Under Boyington’s leadership, the Black Sheep Squadron became known for their aggressive and effective air combat tactics. They flew Vought F4U Corsair fighter planes and engaged in intense aerial battles against Japanese forces in the Pacific.

After spending 20 months as a prisoner of war when his plane was shot down on Jan. 3, 1944, Boyington returned to the US as a national hero. He left the military in 1947 with the rank of colonel and later authored a book called “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which detailed his wartime experiences.

Following the war, Boyington returned to Coeur d’Alene and lived there for some time before eventually settling in Fresno, California. Throughout his life, he maintained connections to Coeur d’Alene and was recognized as one of its notable residents. Today, the city honors his memory with various tributes, including a statue of Boyington located near the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and Own Work Coloured by Johnny Sirlande via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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