Sunday, March 25, 2007

An aviation legand in my own family

I remember watching reruns of Black Sheep Squadron on TV in the late 70's and early 80's so it came as a surprise when my sister-in-law told me that her grandfather was Greg "Pappy" Boyington.

I was big in to airplanes in the late 80's and was trying to get in to the Air Force Academy until I had to get glasses. During this time I knew more about combat planes than I did anything else and hit every air show that I could drag my parents to.

One day my sister-in-law told me about her grandfather and gave me his book to read. I thought this was just the coolest thing and it was even signed by him and addressed to her specifically.

I read "Baa-Baa Black sheep" every chance I got. I had heard some not so great things about his personal life but he was a war hero none the less.

I never got to meet Pappy and it might be a good thing dare it destroy my image of the Medal of Honor winner. This man had issues but he was a wonderful pilot and fought for our country in it's time of need.

I did meet the man that claimed to have shot him down and whether he did or not is not important to me, what I got out of that meeting was a reminder that even though he was the enemy, he wasn't any different than most of our soldiers, he was a young man doing the job that his country asked of him hoping that he'd make it through the war to see his family again. I've been there and done that myself.....Many years later.

I have regained the love for aviation that I had as a kid after all of these years and one day I hope to fly a P-51 and an F-4U in an effort to connect with these hero's of the past.

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