Congressional Medal of Honor recipient not the ‘sort of person UW wanted to produce’

The University of Washington’s student senate has rejected a memorial for Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. Why? WND has the details:

The University of Washington’s student senate rejected a memorial for alumnus Gregory “Pappy” Boyington of “Black Sheep Squadron” fame amid concerns a military hero who shot down enemy planes was not the right kind of person to represent the school.

Student senator Jill Edwards, according to minutes of the student government’s meeting last week, said she “didn’t believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce.”

Ashley Miller, another senator, argued “many monuments at UW already commemorate rich white men.”

Senate member Karl Smith amended the resolution to eliminate a clause that said Boyington “was credited with destroying 26 enemy aircraft, tying the record for most aircraft destroyed by a pilot in American Uniform,” for which he was awarded the Navy Cross.

Smith, according to the minutes, said “the resolution should commend Colonel Boyington’s service, not his killing of others.”

Here’s more about the hero the student Senate at U of W didn’t think was good enough to honor with a memorial:

Colonel 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 12 September 1943 to 3 January 1944. He was shot down over Rabaul on the latter date, and his capture by the Japanese was followed by 20 months as a prisoner of war.


On 3 January 1944, 48 American planes, including one division (4 planes) from the Black Sheep Squadron took off from Bougainville for a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Boyington was the tactical commander of the flight and arrived over Rabaul at eight o’clock in the morning. In the ensuing action the major was seen to shoot down his 26th plane. He then became mixed in the general melee of diving swooping planes and was not seen or heard from again. Following a determined search which proved futile, the major was declared as missing in action. While a prisoner of the Japanese he was selected for temporary promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

During mid-August, 1945, after the atom bombs and the Japanese capitulation, Major Boyington was liberated from Japanese custody at Omori Prison Camp in the Tokyo area on 29 August and arrived in the United States shortly afterwards.

On 6 September the top ace who had been a prisoner of the Japanese for the past 20 months accepted his temporary lieutenant colonel’s commission in the Marine Corps.

At the time of his release it was confirmed that Colonel Boyington had accounted for two Japanese planes on that fateful 3 January before he himself was shot down. That set his total at 28 planes which was highest for Marines.

Shortly after his return to his homeland, Colonel Boyington was ordered to Washington to receive the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, from the President. The medal had been awarded by the late president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in March 1944 and held in the Capital until such time as the colonel was able to receive it. On 5 October 1945, “Nimitz Day,” he, together with a number of other Marines and Naval personnel appeared at the White House and was decorated by President Harry S. Truman.

On the day previous to that he was presented the Navy Cross by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for the ace’s heroic achievements on the day he became missing in action.

Following the receipt of his Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, Colonel Boyington made a Victory Bond Tour. Originally ordered to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, he was later directed to report to the Commanding General, Marine Air West Coast, Marine Corps Air Depot, Miramar, San Diego, California.

Colonel Boyington was retired from the Marine Corps on 1 August 1947 and, because he was specially commended for the performance of duty in actual combat, he was advanced to his final rank.

In addition to the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, Colonel Boyington held the American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Yeah, this man is absolutely the last man any of us should want to memorialize, right?


(Hat tip to High Desert Wanderer, via Rob Port)

Also commenting on this: Blackfive, PARADOSIS (who’s post should be considered a must-read), The Jump Blog, Ace

More: Bravo Romeo Delta at The Jawa Report posts this response from Lee Dunbar, who is the U of W student council president:

The blog news and the draft minutes that were posted are inaccurate. First, Ashley Miller’s statements were highlighting, as a point of information, that the majority of our statues are white males, which was an issue previously addressed last year, this is not in any way meant to go against Colonel Boyington. It was noted by the sponsor, Andrew Everett, about Boyington’s heritage later. Jill Edwards made here statements as an individual, and it should not be assumed she speaks for all students. Karl Smith wanted to honor his service as a whole (he risked his life, endured 20 months in a POW Camp) in an effort to bring more support from a number of students who do not morally agree with war. These statements are in public discourse that has been and will always be at the University of Washington to educate on the questions and issues of our society.

I would also like to remind you that as ASUW President I cosponsored this bill to create a memorial, it failed by one vote, and a good majority of those who voted against it wanted more inclusion of other alumni who were combat veterans who earned the Medal of Honor. This week a new resolution to that effect is being drafted and introduced. In the meantime the ASUW supports veterans in other ways, currently we are supporting state legislation that will hopefully pass and guarantee veterans tuition waivers. In the end, the buck stops here, I would appreciate further comments to be made to me. Please do not participate or condone the hate-filled comments and phone calls made toward individuals in our student government. It has been appalling to see what is being said to people. I too am nauseated.

Thank you for you statements.
Lee Dunbar

I understand there’s another student senate meeting tonight. I have little doubt this will be discussed once again.

(For the record to anyone wanting to make this a ‘rights’ issue: yes, the student senate has the right to memorialize who they want – and I have a right to voice my disagreement)

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