SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans
MASAJIRO KAWATO (3380-1994)
Imperial Japanese Navy Fighter Pilot
MASAJIRO KAWATO was born 1925 and so was just a kid of 18 when he was sent to Truk and given a Zero fighter in 1943. Sometime after the war he emigrated to the United States where people knew him as ‘MIKE‘ KAWATO and he was a technical advisor to the very successful television series ‘Black Sheep Squadron‘, a series of adventures built around the famous US Marine Corps Squadron VMF-214. There he met the American advisor to the series, Major General Gregory ‘Pappy‘ Boyington.
After meeting Boyington and reading his book ‘Baa, Baa Black Sheep‘ KAWATO announced that he was the Japanese pilot who shot Boyington down. Whether he really believed this or he saw an opportunity to get some fame we will never know. For a while, he and Boyington toured;’Pappy‘ selling his ‘Baa, Baa Black Sheep‘ and KAWATO selling his ‘Bye, Bye Black Sheep‘, selling autographs etc. At some point, Boyington became aware that KAWATO did not shoot him down and was nowhere near the area during that shoot-down. The two had a falling out and never traveled together again. He was discovered to be quite an imaginative guy when retelling his wartime accomplishments. Did he really shoot down 19 planes?