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MASAJIRO KAWATO was just an 18 year old kid when he joined the fighter squadron at Rabaul in the Pacific, and he flew his A6M ZERO fighter in many actions against the American forces.

Many years after the war, he moved to the west coast of the United States and for ease of pronunciation, used "Mike" as his name rather than the more difficult Masajiro.  One day he was on the set of the television series "Black Sheep Squadron" which starred Robert Conrad as Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington.  Boyington, a retired US Marine Corps officer and
Medal of Honor recipient, was the technical advisor to the film.  Boyington had written a book about his time in the war entitled "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep".

                 

During their conversations about their combat action and especially the day when Boyington was shot down, Kawato determined that he was the fighter pilot who had shot down this great American fighter ACE.  He convinced Boyington that he was the guy and they made some appearances together, signed some autographs, so Kawato wrote his own book and using a play on the title of Boyington's book, entitled it "Bye, Bye, Black Sheep".

Some time thereafter, it was discovered that Kawato was NOT the Japanese pilot who downed Boyington.  The two men had a falling out and any thought of friendship evaporated.

Always the opportunist, Kawato made some money during his retirement years selling autographed photos of himself and autographed copies of his book.  To his dying day, he insisted that he was the pilot who downed the great "Pappy" Boyington - whether he really believed it or not is anyone's guess.


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