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Letters of the Editor

S.C. native Gen. James Moore was 'Pappy' Boyington's mentor

The State

Saturday, Dec 21, 2002

Congratulations to The State for the Nov. 4 article on World War II's Black Sheep Squadron and its commander, World War -11 ace, Maj. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. Jeff Wilkinson's excellent article also celebrated the participation of members of this famous Marine squadron in Columbia's Veteran's Day activities. The article, however, failed to mention the role played in the history of the Black Sheep Squadron by Columbia native Maj. Gen. James Tillinghast Moore, USMC. Gen. Moore, deputy commanding general of the Pacific First Marine Aviation Wing, was the principal sponsor and mentor of "Pappy" Boyington and the Black Sheep Squadron. 10 the popular TV series of the 1970s, "Baa Baa Black Sheep," actor. Robert Conrad played "Pappy" Boyington, and actor Simon Oakland played Gen. Moore.

No other fighter pilot in US history has been a true-life main character for a television series. Both in the TV series and real life, Boyington is relieved of command and sometimes faces disciplinary action from his immediate superiors for his frequent antics and unorthodox ways. Gen. Moore periodically intervenes and puts Boyington back in command of the Black Sheep Squadron. He was Boyington's supporter and protector.

Bruce Gamble, in the first biography of Boyington, tided "Black Sheep One," suggests that the actual concept of the squadron was Gen. Moore's. "The results were legendary," Gamble wrote.

The record of the Black Sheep Squadron was tops in the Pacific Theater. Later "Pappy" Boyington was awarded the Congressional Medal of. Honor, with Gen. Moore's endorsement.

Gen. Moore was later commanding general of the Marine aviation wing, and at the end of World War II, he was commanding general of all Marine aviation in the Pacific and ended the war with the rank of lieutenant general. He was affectionately called James "Nuts" Moore by his aviators And fellow Marines. He was called " Tillinghast" by his South Carolina Moore family. Gem Moore graduated from The Citadel in 1919 and was a pioneer in Marine aviation. His portrait is in a place of honor in The Citadel library with other noted Citadel alumni. He died in 1953 and is buried in the Baptist Cemetery in Barnwell.

Gen. Moore should be remembered for his recognition of the potential and sponsorship of the Black Sheep Squadron and keeping its controversial commander, "Pappy" Boyington, America's No. I Marine ace, in the war.

E. RAY MOORE JR.

Blythewood