College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Comprehensive (MA)


Jason Frawley


Flying Tigers, Black Sheep, Claire L. Chennault, Gregory Boyington, World War II, Aviation


History | Military History


This project seeks to explore the relationship between Claire Lee Chennault and Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and their respective units. By carefully studying Claire Chennault and Gregory Boyington and the strategies they implemented within their units for missions one can better understand what made their units so successful. By extension, this project also seeks to understand how popular culture has continued to bring their stories to the forefront for a new generation and the influence it has in expanding the legends. By examining personality traits, leadership skills, and the command policies of the commanders outside of missions, it is hopeful that serious consideration will demonstrate what made these units inspiring for generations. Chennault and his American Volunteer Group (AVG) Flying Tigers entered the war against Japan long before Pearl Harbor but were the morale booster that Americans needed when December 7, 1941, occurred. Gregory Boyington and his Black Sheep squadron carried out what some might consider the improbable with just twenty-six pilots and fifteen planes. They achieved ninety-four confirmed enemy kills plus equal probable kills along with land-based destruction. In World War II, the leadership and dedication of Claire Lee Chennault and Gregory Boyington propelled their units into the history books as two of the most significant aviation units of the War in the Pacific.