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While serving with the American Volunteer Group, Boyington acted as a squadron commander and acquired valuable flying experience under combat conditions.
On September 29, 1942, Boyington accepted a commission as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve and was ordered to active duty on October 10, 1942. He has continued on active duty and has been given a temporary promotion to major.
The proposed bill would restore to Major Boyington the rank and precedence he held previous to his resigning to join the American Volunteer Group.
The Navy Department recommends enactment of the proposed legislation.
The Navy Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of the proposed legislation to the Congress. Sincerely yours,
James FORRESTAL, Acting. Mr. BRADLEY. There would be nothing in this bill, in the opinion of the Marine Corps, that would jeopardize in any way Mr. Boyington's rank, temporary rank, as a major?
Colonel KNIGHTON. No, sir.
STATEMENT OF COL. J. W. KNIGHTON, UNITED STATES MARINE
Colonel KNIGHTON. Mr. Chairman, I have here a written statement that I would like to submit for the record.
(The statement referred to is as follows:) The purpose of this bill is to authorize the President to appoint Maj. Gregory Boyington, United States Marine Corps Reserve (the Marine Corps missing ace), a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps and to give him the same rank and precedence as he held under his former commission in the Marine Corps.
Gregory Boyington was appointed an aviation cadet in the Marine Corps Reserve on January 9, 1936. After completing a course of instruction he was designated a naval aviator and appointed a second lieutenant in the regular Marine Corps July 1, 1937. He was appointed a first lieutenant October 21, 1940. and served until August 27, 1941, when he resigned his commission, and joined the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers), with whom he served with distinction as a squadron commander, gaining much valuable experience under combat conditions. He is credited with having shot down at least six Japanese planes during his service with the Flying Tigers.
On September 29, 1942, Boyington accepted a commission as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was ordered to active duty October 10, 1942, and served continuously until January 3, 1944, when he was declared missing in action on a mission against the enemy in the South Pacific. On November 24, 1942, he was temporarily promoted to major in the Marine Corps Reserve. The combat experience gained by Major Boyington during his service with the Flying Tigers has proved of the highest value. The manner in which he has performed his duties since being recommissioned in the Reserve warrants his being restored to his relative precedence with his original contemporaries.
This bill if enacted would restore Major Bovington to the rank and precedence held by him previous to his resignation to join the American Volunteer Group:
The bill passed the Senate on December 9, 1943. The Navy Department has recommended enactment of the proposed bill, which has been cleared by the Bureau of the Budget.
Colonel KNIGHTON. No, sir. May I add, sir, that since the passage of this bill by the Senate, Major Boyington has been missing. He was declared missing in action against the enemy on January 3, 1944.
I might add that Major Boyington is as you know, one of our aces. He ranks with Rickenbacker and Foss and is credited with 26 planes. He was declared missing on the 3d of January.
Mr. BRADLEY. What is your pleasure, gentlemen?
Mr. BRADLEY. The bill will be considered as approved and reported favorably by this committee.
The committee is very much impressed with the record of Major Boyington, and the decision is unanimous. We trust that he will
Colonel Knighton. We hope so, sir. He is one of the outstanding combat flyers. He was in the South Pacific on a combat mission and did not return.
(The subcommittee proceeded to the consideration of other business.)
HEARING ON S. 393 FOR THE RELIEF OF WILLIAM KOVATIS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
SUBCOMMITTEE, PRIVATE Bills No. 1,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday, February 16, 1944. The committee met at 10:40 a. m., Hon. Michael J. Bradley (chairman) presiding.
Mr. BRADLEY. The next bill is S. 393, for the relief of William Kovatis.
(The bill referred to is as follows:)
(S. 393, 78th Cong., 1st sess.)
AN ACT For the relief of William Kovatis
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That William Kovatis, formerly of the United States Marine Corps, shall be entitled to medical care at Government expense at a facility of the Veterans' Administration, until a finding by competent authority that no further improvement can be made by continued treatment, for the injury sustained at the Naval Prison, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on November 3, 1941: Provided, That no compensation, retirement pay, back pay, pension, or benefits other than benefits provided for herein shall be held to have accrued prior to or subsequent to the enactment of this Act: Provided further, That nothing contained in this Act shall operate to change the nature of the discharge given to William Kovatis on May 18, 1942.
Passed the Senate February 15, 1943.
EDWIN A. HALSEY, Secretary.
Mr. BRADLEY. Mr. Clerk, will you read the report.
Washington, March 13, 1943. Hon. CARL VINSON, Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The bill (S. 393) for the relief of William Kovatis was referred to the Navy Department by your committee with request for comment and recommendation thereon.
The bill provides that William Kovatis, formerly of the United States Marine Corps, shall be entitled to medical care at Government expense at a facility of the Veterans' Administration, until a finding is arrived at by competent authority that no further improvement can be made by continued treatment for the injury sustained at the naval prison, Portsmouth, N. H., on November 3, 1941.
The bill further states that no compensation, retirement pay, back pay, pension, or benefits other than benefits provided for in the bill shall be held to have accrued prior to or subsequent to the enactment of the bill, and that nothing contained in the act shall operate to change the nature of the discharge given to William Kovatis on May 18, 1942.
The records of the Navy Department show that William Kovatis was born August 11, 1921, at Brockton, Mass., and enlisted in the Marine Corps on April
12, 1940, at Washington, D. C. He served at the Marine Barracks, Parris Island, S. C., from April 13 to June 15, 1940; and at the Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot, Hingham, Mass., from June 16, 1940, to May 15, 1941. While serving there he was tried by deck court, January 1, 1941, for absence without leave for a period of 14 hours. On April 9, 1941, while a sentry over Government property, he stole property having a value of $49 and appropriated it to his own use. He was tried by general court martial on June 12, 1941, and was sentenced to confinement for 12 months and dishonorable discharge. The confinement was served at the naval prison, Portsmouth, N. H., and he was dishonorably discharged on May 18, 1942.
While Kovatis was serving sentence, he was detailed to the prison bakery and instructed by the dutyman in charge, one John Gambole, baker first class, not to touch any switches or run any machinery. On November 3, 1941, he threw a switch which caused the agitator in the dough mixer to revolve. He then slipped on the wet floor and in an attempt to break his fall, his left wrist was crushed in the dough mixer, rendering his left hand useless.
On February 19, 1942, Kovatis satisfactorily completed two-thirds of his sentence and became eligible for discharge in accordance with his sentence. He was not discharged, however, because of his being under treatment for the above injury. On March 7, 1942, he executed the following statement in writing: -"To the Commanding Officer:
“In direct disobedience of orders I stuck my left hand in the dough mixer at the naval prison on November 3 and suffered severe and mutilating injary to my left hand. I refuse to submit it to any further treatment of this injury and demand my release from the naval hospital upon completion of my sentence."
Kovatis was released from the hospital and returned to the prison on March 7, 1942. On March 9, 1942, he signed the following statement:
"1. On Saturday, March 7, 1942, while a prisoner in the United States naval hospital, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N. H., Lieutenant Commander Miner, medical officer at the hospital, came down to the lock ward where I was confined with a statement wrote out in longhand and he asked me to rewrite the statement (and sign it) regarding the accident I had in the prison bakeshop, stating that I had disregarded orders and put my hand in the dough mixer. He further stated that, that was the only way I could get out of the hospital, and that the senior medical officer had sent him down with the statement.
“2. I now wish to withdraw that statement made on March 7, 1942, as I only signed it in order to get away from the hospital and return to the prison."
A board of medical survey which convened at the naval hospital in Portsmouth, N. H., on April 22, 1942, recommended that Private Kovatis be discharged as unfit for service. This board found that the probable duration of his disability was permanent and that it was the result of his own misconduct, since the revolving of the agitator was the primary cause of the patient's condition. In an endorsement on the survey report, the commandarit, United States Marine Corps, on May 11, 1942, recommended to the Judge Advocate General that the man be discharged in accordance with the terms of his sentence, which was approved by the Secretary of the Navy on May 20, 1942.
The Navy Department believes that while the disobedience of orders by Kovatis was the primary cause of his injury, it appears that there were other contributing factors of an accidental nature. The fact that he refused further treatment at a time when it necessitated his being retained as a prisoner beyond his normal period of confinement should not be considered too strongly against him and preclude further needed medical treatment.
Enactment of the bill S. 393 would involve no cost to the Navy, but there would be some additional cost under appropriations of the Veterans' Administration, the extent of which would depend on how long the treatments for injury to kovatis' hand were continued.
The Navy Department recommends enactment of the bill S. 393. .
The Navy Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this recommendation. Sincerely yours,
James FORRESTAL, Acting. Mr. BRADLEY. Colonel Knighton, I am, of course, expressing only my own thought which in some ways may or may not be correct or reflect the sentiment of the other members of the committee. In view of this report, I am personally in favor of reporting out this bill. The