The smoking light is on

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The smoking light is on

Post by koimaster » September 6th 2021, 10:07am

As a flight of Marine Corsairs cruised over the Pacific, Lieutenant Robert McClurg watched the canopy of his leader’s aircraft intently. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington had his seat cranked all the way down and he was chain-smoking as usual.

Pilots were not supposed to smoke cigarettes in their fighters. It was a clear fire hazard. After all, a warplane was a flimsy aluminum shell wrapped around a conglomeration of stuff that naturally wanted to burn or explode—fuel, hydraulic fluid, oil, oxygen, weaponry. Adding a lit cigarette to that mix was perilous.

But Boyington wasn’t exactly a “by-the-book” type of guy. On the ground, he was a heavy drinker and, as he described in his autobiography, “an incessant smoker.” While on the job, hunting Japanese aircraft, one thing Boyington did not leave behind was his cigarettes.

As McClurg related in Boyington’s 1958 book Baa Baa Black Sheep, “I always know when we’re going into combat.” Keenly observing his leader, he looked for a break in the chain. When Boyington straightened up, cracked his canopy, and flicked his half-smoked Camel into the ocean, it was a sure sign that things were about to happen. ... AO2D-NZWUs


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