Disrespecting a Medal of Honor winner Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, February 19, 2006
Each week I do an article called "Project Hero" to highlight the heros we have in our military service fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is my small way of bringing attention to our nation's finest.
In the pantheon of heros within our military, both past and present, those that have been awarded the Medal of Honor stand out as "superstars" if you were to use today's parlance. There is no higher award for valor and few are awarded. It is the only award presented by the President of the United States. Medal of Honor awardees should always, without exception, be honored and revered.
Unless, of course, the Medal of Honor winner is an alumnus of the University of Washington.
Amazingly, the MOH winner we're talking about is Greg "Pappy" Boyington. Boyington had fought for the legendary Flying Tigers in China well before Pearl Harbor. Pappy Boyington is a legend not only in Marine Corps aviation, but in combat aviation as a whole. A leader of exceptional skill and bravery who served with valor during WWII, Boyington was thought to have been killed in an engagement in the Pacific. Here's a part of his remarkable story:
Pappy Boyington led by example in the air war over various Pacific islands. During one period, in 1943, he shot down 14 Japanese planes in 32 days. On October 17, 1943, Pappy led a force of 24 Marine fighters over the Japanese fighter base at Kahili, on the island of Bougainville. They circled the base repeatedly, daring the 60 Japanese fighters on the field to come up. When the Japanese responded, Pappy's boys shot down 20 of them before scooting back to base without losing a plane.
He displayed extraordinary leadership, extraordinary acumen as a pilot, and extraordinary courage, no matter what the odds against him. On January 3, 1944, during a huge fighter action over Rabaul, Pappy shot down his 28th Japanese plane and was himself shot down in the wild aerial melee.
Unseen by his fellow pilots, he bailed out, dropped into the ocean, and was soon picked up by a Japanese submarine. The Japanese did not report his capture and while he spent 20 months of torture and near starvation in prisoner of war camps, he was listed by the U.S. as missing in action.
In March 1944, Boyington was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His comrades thought it was a posthumous decoration. But Pappy survived the prison camp, was freed at the end of the war, and stood in the White House on October 5, 1945, still recovering from the physical and psychological effects of his imprisonment, as President Harry S Truman draped the nation's highest award for bravery around his neck.
Back to the University of Washington and it's "distinguished" student senate. Apparently someone had the temerity to suggest that a small statue be erected honoring the U of W graduate who had so distinguished himself that he was awarded the nation's highest military honor. From the debate:
A distinguished "Senator," Jill Edwards moves to table the matter. Discussion ensues on who this Boyington is and why he should be honored. One student says he had read about Boyington and thought the university should be proud of him.
Distinguished Senator Jill Edwards questions "whether it was appropriate to honor a person who killed other people."
She further wonders whether "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."
Another distinguished Senator, Ashley Miller, "commented that many monuments at UW already commemorate rich white men."
Student Senator Karl Smith casts some oil on the troubled waters by suggesting that the resolution honoring Boyington be stripped of any mention of "destroying 26 enemy aircraft." Perhaps, in this way, Colonel Boyington's "service" could be acknowledged, but "not his killing of others."
"Rich white man" and proud Marine Greg "Pappy" Boyington, part Souix indian and a child of the depression who worked his way through the University of Washington, became a top ace and survived torture and privation for his country to become a Medal of Honor winner. Greg "Pappy" Boyington who "killed other people" so "Senator" Ashley Miller could sniff down her nose at him and "Senator" Karl Smith to dilute his achievement to 'service' without acknowledging that those he killed would have gladly enslaved Mr. Smith, Ms. Miller and the rest of U of W's student government if given the chance.
Thankfully the rest of us understand the incredible achievement of Pappy Boyington and honor his service and valor. As for the student government of the Univeristy of Washington? They need a history refresher badly. And this time, the political correctness which has apparently so infected the version they last studied needs to be left aside. They need to do some homework on men like Greg Boyington and the honor with which he was bestowed before being so disrespectful of his achievement.
UPDATE: The rest of the story. The U of W Senate Resolution calling for a tribute to Boyington failed. However, a resolution has been introduced into the Senate by a number of veterans and supporters demanding an apology from student Senator Jill Edwards. It reads, in part:
WHEREAS Student Senator Jill Edwards offended all members of the United States Marine Corps, past or present, dead or alive; especially those who were, are, or will be students at the University of Washington with her comment that she "didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce." This commented brought shame and dishonor to not only the UW Student Senate, but also the University as a whole, all its members who have served in the Marine Corps and all Marines past and present.
They're demanding a full written apology. In the meantime, another resolution has been introduced into the Senate calling for a memorial for COL Boyington. We'll see how that fares. Also of note is a memorial scholarship fund which has been set up in Boyington's name to aid in the education of Marine Corps veterans or the child of a Marine Coprs vet. If you're interested in contributing, you'll find all the pertinant information here.
So the student senate of UW wonders if "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce." Amazing! Somehow, members of the Marine Corps are now something less because of their choice to serve the country with honor, courage, and selfless devotion.
The answer is simple....stop all contributions to UW. Jumpin Jill Edwards and her cohorts have their right to free speech....but then again...so do we. No more money...that’s my commentary.
I used to take pride in the fact I was accepted to attend U.W. as an undergrad in the ’80’s. I was told it was a hard school to get into. But now I’m not so sure.
Here we have an enrolled "student-senator" who thinks the color of a man’s skin, not his gifts to our country, should determine the size of his memorial. Is this really the cream of America’s crop?
I hope this co-collegiate of mine is an Affirmative-Action admit, because if she isn’t then I need to reappraise the value I put on my UW admission.
Sad thing is, I don’t expect that America’s military heros - regardless of their affiliation with established minorities’ grievance groups - can get a fair hearing on any state university campus in America today. -Steve
Think of it this way, Senator Ashley and Sentor Jill are probably there to receive their "MRS" degree anyway. This whole Senator thing is just to pass the time and practice being catty when they move into the right neighborhood after p*ssing away 4 years of alleged education.
Hey, if they can be disrepectful of achievement, so can I.
Your summary of events is ok, but you missed some glaring hypocrisy. The university has a memorial to UW alumni who fought with the Abraham Lincoln brigade in the Spanish Civil War. So when these students say the object to honoring an alumni for killing people they’re rank hypocrites. The Spanish Civil War veterans killed people.
These current students just oppose anyone who killed people during a war defending America. But hey, if you’re a commnunist killing people in a war fighting Spanish fascists, I guess that’s worth honoring. If not, then these student senators should be pushing to get rid of the memorial to the Spanish Civil War veterans. I won’t hold my breath waiting for that though.
Student Senator Karl Smith casts some oil on the troubled waters by suggesting that the resolution honoring Boyington be stripped of any mention of "destroying 26 enemy aircraft." Perhaps, in this way, Colonel Boyington’s "service" could be acknowledged, but "not his killing of others."
This is what passes for deep thought in college today? Killing people who are trying to kill Americans is bad?
Maybe we should tell the UW students that Boyington had a tv show made about him, and then they’ll reconsider.
This is just another example of how the political correctness plague haunts America today. I was a child of WWII, and of all the unfortunate modern wars the U.S. has been engaged in, our involvement in WWII was absolutely necessary and in fact preserved the vital freedoms that we enjoy today. Many of the younger generation today seem to have no real sense of what that global conflict was all about. I remain hopeful that the students at UW will rethink their misguided reaction toward "Pappy’s" incredibly heroic accomplishments during WWII and give him the respect and honor that he deserves as a fellow graduate of their university.
I’m stunned at all the opposition to these students. Not only is it wartime, it’s war-based-on-false-pretenses time. These students have come of age in an era that makes the Nixon Administration look like the Boy Scouts. How dare we expect our college campuses be used to foster more miltary propaganda and fawn over our flag, especially now. I’m not saying Boyington isn’t an American hero. But then, why is it only now that the statue is being pushed, 60 years later? To drum up more sentiment for our military after Bush has squandered so much of it? Isn’t Boyington’s memory and contribution worth more than such a cynical gesture?
Dissent is supposed to be the hallmark of our liberties, yet here come the conservatives, led by bombastic Joe Scarborough, ready to bully a bunch of students to preserve their pro-war ideals. Another idiodic display of misplaced outrage, if you ask me. (The president is allowing the UAE to purchase six major American ports, for God’s sake.) These students voted, folks, and the resolution failed. Democracy in action. Then, God forbid, there was free speech when some left wingers made some ill-advised comments. Big deal. While I personally consider most Marines heros, they are sometimes deployed by dishonest admistrations to do less than honorable things. Cut these kids some slack. The last time any of them saw a Marine was probably Abu Ghraib footage. This board should be less hostile to democracy and free speech.
I am currently a graduate student in history at a college in Texas. This is my second masters and I am 50 years old. Ther reason these two bozo’s made these comments is they are being taught this in by very liberal teachers. I know because I am in these classes. While I consider myself liberal in many ways I am agast at the liberalism of teachers who have never done anything but go to school and teach in college, most have never worked at "real" (not working their way through school)jobs and have spent their lives in Ivy towers. Why is the statue for Boyinton coming up now? Not to drum up support for Bush but perhaps because a student read about him and took pride in his accomplishments. But, just as in my school when you disagree with a liberal they treat you as an outcast and try to humiliate you. They are entitled to their opinions and you must respect them but they will not show the same respect to you or your opinions.
They are entitled to their opinions and you must respect them but they will not show the same respect to you or your opinions.
Actually, I don’t have to respect them at all, their opinions I mean. What I respect is their right to hold those opinions. That doesn’t at all mean I have to respect their opinions, espeically if I find them to be worthless.
In response to JHA, I’d like to point out a couple of thing...
You’ll note that much of the critisism on this blog is directed to the lack of a sense of history and the obvious leftist indoctrination of college students today. The comments almost seek to excuse the students’ positions by intimating that they are just ’ill informed,’ and that if they knew history, they would change their positions.
A basic question to ask is "What is worth fighting for?" Any cursory examination of the attrocities Japan committed during WWII would cause the entire student council to puke their collective guts out. But that information is not taught at UofW.