On this day in 1944, Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, World War II ace and leader of Marine Fighter Squadron 214, the infamous “Black Sheep,” downed three Japanese aircraft during his final combat mission of WWII. This feat brought his total number of downed enemy planes to 26, tying the mark in aviation history set by Army Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, who downed 26 planes in World War I.
During his last mission, Boyington made several flights through hostile enemy fire over Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. His aircraft went down during the ensuing dogfight.