Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW student body may honor World War II hero, after all

Seattle Times staff reporter

It looks like University of Washington students may find a way to honor the late decorated World War II veteran Gregory "Pappy" Boyington after all.

The student Senate today will consider a resolution to construct a memorial to honor Boyington and the four or five other UW alumni who have received the Medal of Honor. The resolution likely will be referred back to student groups before a final vote next week.

The student Senate caused an uproar earlier this month when, by a one-vote margin, it rejected a resolution to honor Boyington.

The comments from two students in particular made their way onto talk radio and Internet Web journals, or blogs. One said she didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person that the UW wanted to produce, according to minutes from the meeting. Another said that many UW monuments already commemorate "rich white men."

People from all over the country began e-mailing and contacting students and administrators. Unfortunately, there were some misunderstandings, said student government President Lee Dunbar.

"A lot of people highlighted specifically those two quotes, and they used it to frame the entire vote," Dunbar said. "But the reason the vote lost, I believe, was that a lot of senators thought it wasn't inclusive of some other alumni."

Even the two student comments in question were taken out of context, Dunbar said. For instance, the comment about "rich white men" was referring to an issue that has been discussed at length by students and last year resulted in construction of a diversity monument.

UW spokesman Norm Arkans said the university received about 300 e-mails after some blogs urged people to contact the UW president's office. The UW then set up a memorial fund in Boyington's name after some who e-mailed suggested the idea, Arkans said.

As of Monday, the UW Foundation had received $15,745 from 118 donors to the Boyington fund. The money will provide scholarships to undergraduate students who are either Marine Corps veterans or children of Marine Corps vets.

Arkans said that if students pass a resolution supporting a physical memorial, it would come as a recommendation to administrators. The process then would be to find money to pay for it and check with various campus committees for an appropriate site and design, he said.

Boyington, a lifelong Husky football fan, became famous for shooting down a record 28 enemy planes while a Marine pilot. He was stationed mainly in the South Pacific and spent 20 months as a Japanese prisoner of war. His exploits and autobiography were the basis for the 1970s TV series "Baa Baa Black Sheep" starring Robert Conrad as Boyington.

Boyington died in 1988.

The UW resolution is sponsored by student Andrew Everett, who also sponsored the failed first resolution.

Other Medal of Honor alumni include 1st Lt. Deming Bronson; Brig. Gen. Robert Galer; 2nd Lt. Robert Leisy; and Private 1st Class William Nakamura. Students are trying to confirm whether a sixth alumnus also received the honor.

Information from The Seattle Times archives and UW alumni magazine Columns is included in this report.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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