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."
The senate's decision was reported first by Seattle radio talk-host Kirby Wilbur of KVI, whose listeners were "absolutely incensed," according to producer Matt Haver.
Brent Ludeman, president of the university's College Republicans, told WND in an e-mail the decision "reflects poorly on the university."
"Pappy Boyington went beyond the call of duty to serve and protect this country – he simply deserves better," Ludeman said. "Just last year, the university erected a memorial to diversity. Why can't we do the same for Pappy Boyington and others who have defended our country?"
The resolution points out Boyington, a student at the UW from 1930-34, served as a combat pilot in the 1st Squadron, American Volunteer Group – the "Flying Tigers of China" – and later as a Marine Corps combat pilot in charge of Marine Fighting Squadron 214, "The Black Sheep Squadron."
Along with the Navy Cross, Boyington was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his heroism. He was shot down and spent 20 months in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.
The resolution says, "Be it resolved … [t]hat we consider Col. Gregory Boyington, United States Marine Corps, to be a prime example of the excellence that this university represents and strives to impart upon its students, and, That we desire for a memorial for Col. Boyington be commenced by the University of Washington by 11 January 2008, the twentieth anniversary of his death, which will be publicly displayed, so that all who come here in future years will know that the University of Washington produced one of this country's bravest men, and that we as a community hold this fact in the highest esteem."
Commenting on the decision, a blogger who says he met Boyington on numerous occasions at a museum and air show over the years noted the famous flyer "was no rich boy," having grown up in a struggling family in which he was forced to work hard to make it through school. The blogger, who hosts the website Paradosis, also pointed out Boyington was part Sioux.
Boyington was open about his marital problems and alcohol abuse, saying notably, "Just name a hero and I'll prove he's a bum."
The blogger wondered, "have our Washington youth revised history so much as this? To compare Boyington – or for that matter any of our WW2 vets – to murderers? What are these kids being taught today? They don't deserve those 20 months Pappy spent being tortured and beaten in a Japanese prison camp ... they don't deserve any of what our grandfathers and grandmothers sacrificed to free Europe and the Pacific."
Boyington wrote a book in 1958 that reached the best-seller list, "Baa Baa, Black Sheep." In 1976, he sold rights to Universal, which aired a TV series for two seasons of the same name.
Boyington, who died Jan. 11, 1988, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.