JUNE 2006: Home arrow Briefings arrow Latest arrow Students Favor Medal of Honor Memorial
Students Favor Medal of Honor Memorial Print

The ASUW Student Senate passed a resolution April 4 that endorses a campus memorial to UW alumni/attendees who have received the Medal of Honor while in the military. The resolution passed on a vote of 61 to 14 with 13 abstentions.

The action came after a Feb. 7 vote that tabled a motion favoring a memorial to UW alumnus Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, ’34, a Marine fighter pilot who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. That vote led to a wave of protests across the nation, including more than 300 e-mails to the UW. Some media outlets and blogs reported comments made by two student senators during the Feb. 7 debate questioning the value of a memorial to Boyington.

“A lot of people highlighted specifically those two quotes, and they used it to frame the entire vote,” ASUW President Lee Dunbar told the Seattle Times. “But the reason the vote lost, I believe, was that a lot of senators thought it wasn’t inclusive of some other alumni.”

The student senate is an advisory group only. The UW community is currently considering the next steps, including fund-raising for a memorial.

In the meantime, the University of Washington Foundation has established a new Lt. Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide scholarships to undergraduate students who are either United States Marine Corps veterans or are the children of a United States Marine Corps veteran. Nearly $18,500 in gifts and pledges has already been raised. For more information, please see the Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund site on the Web at .

The six UW alumni/attendees who have won the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, are:

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, ’34
The Marines’ WWII ace, Boyington downed 28 enemy planes before being captured by the Japanese and spending the rest of the conflict in a prisoner of war camp (see “Our Black Sheep Hero,” Dec. 1998). His squadron’s exploits became the basis for the 1970s TV series, Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Deming Bronson, ’15
This UW graduate received a Medal of Honor during World War I for capturing enemy prisoners near Eclisfontaine, France, in 1918. He was wounded by a hand grenade and a bullet and still led his unit to capture enemy positions. At the UW, he was a forestry major and played Husky football from 1912–1916 under legendary Coach Gil Dobie.

Robert Galer, ’40
As a Marine Corps major in August and September of 1942, he repeatedly engaged Japanese aerial forces in combat, “individually shooting down 11 enemy bomber and fighter aircraft over a period of 29 days,” according to the text of his medal citation. Galer was himself shot down four times during his service in World War II and Korea. He retired as a brigadier general in 1957.

John D. “Bud” Hawk, ’52
Army Sgt. Hawk was wounded on August 20, 1944, in France when the German army was trying to escape its encirclement following the Normandy invasion (see “Honoring All Who Serve,” Letters, March 2002). A portion of his medal citation reads, “Sgt. Hawk’s fearless initiative and heroic conduct, even while suffering from a painful wound, was in large measure responsible for crushing two desperate attempts of the enemy to escape from the Falaise Pocket and for taking more than 500 prisoners.”

Robert Leisy, ’68
Leisy served as a 2nd Lt. in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. During an engagement in Phuoc Long Province, Leisy’s unit was ambushed by a far larger force of North Vietnamese soldiers. He shielded his men from a rocket grenade attack and died of the wounds on Dec. 2, 1969. He was 24.

William Nakamura, ’46
Forced to leave the UW because of the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942, William Kenzo Nakamura enlisted in the famous 442nd Regiment Combat Team, the most decorated military unit in U.S. history. He died in Italy on the Fourth of July, 1944, while providing cover for his pinned-down platoon. He attended the UW in the early 1940s (see “Final Honors,” Dec. 2005).