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Pappy Boyington

January 24, 1988

Your story about the death of Pappy Boyington (Part I, Jan. 12) called him "the oldest active Marine pilot in the war." He was not even the oldest pilot in the Black Sheep Squadron. Fred Avey was.

We who were members of the Black Sheep Squadron bitterly resent the constant reference to the pilots as "ragtags" and "rejects." The fact is that the Black Sheep Squadron was formed in Espiritu Santo at the suggestion of the assistant wing commander, Gen. James T. Moore (not Boyington) because an additional fighter squadron was needed in combat.

The 28 pilots who comprised the squadron for our first combat tour included, besides Boyington, eight pilots with South Pacific combat experience and a total of 14 1/2 Japanese planes to their credit, including three transfers from the RCAF and two who had been instructors. Not one was a ragtag, brawling fugitive from court martial.

That crummy TV show which described the Black Sheep as drunken brawlers who had to be rescued from court martial by Boyington does a disservice to a fine group of young men who performed in the best tradition of the Marine Corps.

FRANK E. WALTON

Colonel, USMCR (Ret.)

Honolulu

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