Pappy Boyington's 25th Kill Print in 8 1/2" x 11" or 11" x 14". Each print is personally signed by the artist, Steve Daniels.
Greg Boyington was born on December 4, 1912 in the general vicinity of Coer d’Alene, Idaho. In 1935 he enlisted in the Marine Corps as an aviator. In August 1942 Boyington resigned his commission with the Marine Corps to take a position with a new aviation unit known as the American Volunteer Group – a unit we know today as the Flying Tigers. The Tigers flew Curtiss P-40 Warhawks were painted with the famous "shark mouth" nose art that we all know and love. In the Winter of 1941-42, he went in combat on a daily basis against the toughest pilots in the world and always lived to tell the tale – even on a couple of occasions when his plane crashed in the jungle and he had to hoof it back to base through unfamiliar territory. During his first few months he recorded six enemy aircraft kills, which would make him the first U.S. fighter ace of World War II – although (sigh) I have to mention that there’s some dispute here, as there always is when you’re talking about combat kills of any type, and some people complain that he only had two and not six, you know the drill. Regardless of the numbers, the undisputable truth remains that Flight Leader Boyington spent many of his nights avoiding Japanese bombing raids, most of his days terrorizing the skies in P-40 fighterss that were becoming more beat-up and less reliable by the day. Eventually Boyington pissed off his commander a little too hard, and in 1943 he got into a heated argument with his commander that ended up getting Boyington dishonorably discharged from the Flying Tigers. Luckily for him, the United States was formally in World War II at this point, so the grizzled old fighter ace just immediately walked into a recruiting office, swore the Oath of Allegiance, and was posted as a Lieutenant in Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-122. Boyington had a malfunction in his aircraft during a training exercise, lost control of the plane, and slammed hard into the tarmac. The massive crash shattered his leg in multiple places, jacking it up so intensely that there was a slight chance he might have to have had it amputated. Doctors initially told Boyington that he’d never walk again. By August 1943 he was already back in the cockpit. At this point in the war, the U.S. was in the heat of the fighting against the Japanese all across the Pacific, and the fighting had left many Marine aviation units shattered and fragmented. Boyington was coming back from injury himself, and his mission was pretty simple – take whatever available men and equipment you can find, form them up into a fighter squadron, and hurl it into the fray as quickly as possible. The unit he came up with would become perhaps the most famous Marine Corps aviation squadron in American history: VMF-214, the Black Sheep Squadron.
The Black Sheep Squadron initially consisted of 26 pilots, including some Royal Canadian Air Force vets, a Los Angeles police officer, and a couple Marine pilots who had already earned themselves a couple enemy aircraft kills during the war. They were equipped with the Vought F4U Corsair, one of the most badass aircraft of the Pacific Theater, and shipped out to the front to try their hand at annihilating some Japanese aircraft. Boyington, who was now known among his men as "Gramps" or "Pappy", because at thirty years old he was by far the oldest man in the unit,flew his first mission with the Marine Corps on September 14, 1943, when his squadron escorted a group of dive bombers on a raid against a Japanese supply base. Two days later, Pappy Boyington became one of the very few American aviators to ever become an "Ace in a Day" – meaning he killed five enemy aircraft in a single mission. VMF-214 continued attacking Japanese bases as part of the Bougainville Campaign, which was the Allied American and Aussie mission to re-take the Northern Solomon Islands by striking out from bases in the Papua New Guinea region. And as Marine Corsairs dove, banked, and opened fire all throughout the skies above the region. On October 17, 1943, 25 Marine Corsairs engaged and killed 20 enemy Zeroes without losing a single man. Another time, Pappy was leading his flight group when he got a radio signal from a Japanese aircraft, hailing the Marines in English, pretending to be an American ship and asking Boyington to identify his location. Boyington's b.s. meter was off the charts, though, and he wasn't about to fall for that weak sauce. He told the Japanese pilot exactly where he was… except he gave the position at 5,000 feet lower than the altitude the Marines were flying. When the Japanese squadron showed up for their ambush, the Marines dove down with the sun at their backs and wiped out twelve Zeroes in just minutes of dogfighting.