Recently I made the acquaintance of former WWII B-29 airman Hap Halloran. I contacted him about buying a copy of his book 'Hap's War'. We exchanged a few emails, and I told him I wanted to send him my book as a gift in appreciation of his service in World War Two. Hap was shot down and spent many months as a POW in Japan. He was tortured physically and mentally. He stayed in the same prison as Black Sheep Squadron leader Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington, who had received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his exploits, despite being alive. When Pappy found out about this in prison, he said he'd happily trade the medal for some food.
In talking about Pappy, I mentioned that I had written an article on this blog advocating that Boyington, an Idaho native, get a statue at his alma mater, University of Washington. There was a big flap a year or two ago because the students and some faculty at UW did not want to put up a statue of someone who killed others in the war. You can read this article here: http://untoldvalor.blogspot.com/2007/07/give-pappy-boyington-his-statue.html
"Pappy", MOH winner.
Hap then suggested that I might like a poster he had in his home. Pappy Boyington had given it to him back in 1978. The poster shows Pappy getting ready to bail out of his flaming aircraft. He signed the poster "Aug 11, 1978, With Red Hot Regards--Pappy Boyington". Hap added at the bottom, under Pappy's photo, "We were POWs together in Omori POW camp SW of Tokyo in 1945. Pappy and I traveled together at air events and golfed together. I wrote and delivered his eulogy at Arlington National Cemetery 1-15-88."
The poster of Pappy Boyington.
Hap also adds under the photo of the Japanese credited with shooting Pappy down, Masajiro Kawato, that Kawato did not shoot Boyington down, and adds, "authority--Boyington" to end the argument.
The second poster shows Hap's B-29 on its final mission. The painting, 'Rover Boys Express' is by Roberto Cernuda. The plane went down and many of the men in the rear of the plane, despite the heroic efforts to reach them through the crawlspace, perished in the crash.
Hap's Plane on its Final Mission.
What a wonderful gift to a guy who loves aviation history. Nothing I will get for Christmas will come close.Hap was plagued for forty years by nightmares of his POW experiences. Finally he decided to go back to Japan and face his fears head-on. He went back and has since gone back ten times, most recently just a few months ago. Here he is with some Japanese at the Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, near the site of the 1945 atomic bomb.
Once Hap went back, the nightmares got better. He now wages peace and teaches forgiveness. Every day that he has lived since his POW days he considers a 'bonus day'. He finishes many emails with 'Enjoy life'.