Before the United States officially entered World War II, many young Americans volunteered to serve in foreign air arms. Whether flying for Britain in the Eagle Squadrons or in the American Volunteer Group supporting Chiang Kai-shek in China, those who served as fighter pilots were the spearhead of American intervention, and they quickly became folk heroes. One of the most colorful and controversial members of that unique fraternity was Gregory Boyington.
Boyington discovered a new world in combat aviation after several years as an instructor pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. The combat experience he accumulated over China and Burma was nearly wasted by a bureaucracy that failed to comprehend the necessities of the new war-and was often willing to shelve talented individuals whose skills were sorely needed at the front. Boyington's methods of circumventing rules and regulations as well as his often outrageous personal conduct often proved that he was, as he admitted in retrospect, his ‘own worst enemy.