To purchase the interview with Charlie Bond click here. A sample of it is shown below.
FB If you could tell us, what were you doing prior to even hearing about the AVG?
CB Prior to hearing about the AVG, I was in bombers. The United States was staying out of the war but wanted to help, and had set up an arrangement to ferry Lockheed Hudson bombers from Burbank to Montreal to turn over the RCAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and then they would ferry them on to the British. They selected a lot of bomber pilots to go on TDY to Long Beach, California, pick up the bombers, ferry them to Montreal, come back with a parachute and go again, which became very boring. Of course, I was still in the bomber business and then. I got this phone call from my buddy at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, he said, "Charlie, you still want to get in fighters?" And I said, "You bet", so he gave me the name of Skip Adair whom he knew. He said, "You call him," and he gave me his phone number, "and talk to him, and he'll tell you what your chance is to fly with the AVG in Burma to protect the Burma Road for the Chinese and under a guy by the name of Claire Chennault who used to be in the Air Force." I thanked him and I immediately called Adair and then he gave me the phone number of a Colonel Green whom I don't know this day who was in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. "You just call him and tell him that you want to get in the AVG, and he'll ask you a few questions." So I did that but I didn't do that until the following day. I got to talking to some of my buddies, Jim Cross and George Burguard, who had come with me from McDill to do the same ferrying job and when I told them about the story and they were interested. So they said, "Look Charlie, we want to go too," and I said, "Well, I'll mention your names." So the next day, I called this number and Colonel Green answered. He asked me a few questions. I told him who I was, my qualifications and all, and I said "I want to get in fighters" and I mentioned Jim Cross and George Burguard's name and he says, "Okay." He says, "Probably within the next day you'll get a wire telling you what to do." Lo and behold, the next day my Commander got a wire at Long Beach. This was the forerunner of the old air transport command; it was called the Western Division of the United States Army Air Force Ferrying Division, just set up. He called me in, boy, and he was mad! "What the hell's going on?" Well, I explained it all to him and finally he settled down, and sure enough, he had to publish orders that very day releasing Charlie Bond, Jim Cross and George Burguard from the United States Army Air Corps and I had to resign my reserve commission, all connections with the armed forces of the United States and I was told to report to my home in Dallas, Texas and I'd be notified later. So that's what happened. I went home and stood by, and eventually — I'd say within about a week, I got a letter from a CAMCO Organization, Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which later on turns out to be a background for the AVG. They gave me instructions to report to San Francisco, and I think it was early September, about the 10th of September of 1941 and paid my way, airline ticket and all, and that's how I ended up going to San Francisco and finding a lot of other characters just about like me, ready to go to China.
FB Now when you met with the people in San Francisco at CAMCO — when you got to San Francisco and you got a chance to actually talk to the people at CAMCO, what did they tell you to expect? What did they expect of you and what did they tell you to expect when you arrived in China?
CB Well, when I got to San Francisco, I checked in with registration of course — and some guy came up to me and I can't remember who it was — I think it was one of the other guys who had already reported, and he says, "Just don't say anything to anybody what you're doing here, just register." And I registered and it ends up we had about 25 of the other characters there, and then we began to talk. I recall now that I was told by Skip Adair the general concept. It was I would go over as a wing man. I would be paid $600 a month and this would all be in writing, and it would be for a year's contract. We were relief being organized to defend the Burma Road for the movement of lend-lease supplies up into China from Rangoon. He did say that also, you will get $500 for every airplane you shoot down, and this of course, made me perk up my ears. And we discussed this among all of the guys and they had been told the same thing, and we ultimately signed a contract which essentially said everything, but the $500 was not in the contract, however, it turned out, they faithfully did pay us $500 for every aircraft we shot down.
FB Why would you want to go to China — what was your motivation?