John Boynton grew up in Winnetka and graduated from New Trier in 1938. After two years at Lake Forest College, he enlisted in the Army in January 1943 at the age of 22. He completed his training at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois.
Boynton was a Military Policeman (MP) at Camp Grant, responsible for transporting soldiers who had been Absent Without Leave (AWOL) to a military prison. Their route required a change of trains in Chicago. Boynton would drape his coat over the prisoner’s hands to give the appearance that the soldier was carrying his coat and to hide the necessary handcuffs. One time, Boynton removed the handcuffs from a prisoner while on the train and dozed off, awakening an hour later to realize, with relief, that the prisoner was still seated beside him.
After a year as a MP, Boynton was transferred to the 123rd Infantry General Hospital at Camp Ellis near Peoria, Illinois. There he was assigned to train as an x-ray technician, and six months later he completed his training at Fitzsimons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Boynton (left, at the controls), practicing field x-ray techniques with a portable x-ray machine. X-ray technicians were expected to position the patient for x-raying, develop the x-ray, and consult with a radiologist when the results were read. Radiologists provided a mentoring role for the technicians, giving feedback as to technique and quality of the x-ray.
Boynton was initially deployed to England, but after six weeks was transferred to the 202nd General Hospital in Paris, arriving on Christmas Day 1944. Paris had become a central logistical point for the treatment of soldiers as they advanced toward Germany, with five General Hospitals and one station hospital. Soldiers were brought from the front on customized trains that made the arduous trek from points north and west. Those who were able to withstand the journey were air-lifted back to the US or England.
Boynton spent the remainder of the war in Paris. On Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, he watched with horror as a fellow soldier was celebrating in a fountain and was electrocuted by an underwater light. He later told his children that event was the height of irony, to survive the war only to die while celebrating its end. After the war, Boynton returned to Winnetka and worked selling industrial machinery.