Charlie Bond, the author of A flying tiger’s diary is one of the last fighter pilots who participated in the world war two. Born on April 22nd 1915, Charlie Bond had a passion of flying in the air since he was fifteen years old. He worked for the AVG (American volunteer group) which was dubbed as “flying Tigers” where he served for more than 30 years before retiring in 1968. Initially, Charlie Bond was working with the army air force of the United States, but he left in September 1941 to volunteer for service in the people’s republic of china as part of a secret program under the leadership of General Claire Chennault. The war changed his life significantly as he spent most of his time as a fighter pilot during the war. He is recognized as one of the America’s legends due to his immense contributions to the war as a pilot. Before his death, he was able to narrate how he and his colleagues in the world war two were able to survive in his book “A flying tiger’s diary.” He survived gun shots during the war though he never gave up. During the war, Charlie held several commanding positions in his long career which included simultaneous service at the Vietnam War where he was the deputy commanding officer in the second air division. In short, Charlie Bond’s participation in war raised him from zero to a hero in the history of United States.
He starts by explaining how he became a volunteer sails for China. It was during 1941 when General Chennault began recruiting people for American volunteer group. Several assistants were hired including Richard Aldworth, Rutledge Irvine and harry Claiborne among others. They were given salaries ranging from $ 600 for pilots and $ 750 for squadron commanders per month. More than 300 men were recruited in the volunteer program whereby some had not graduated from high school and others had college degrees. Different volunteers had different reasons for joining the AVG, some did not like the military while others saw the AVG as the way out (Bond & Anderson, 1984).
After joining the AVG, Charlie was hoping to become a fighter pilot and secure regular commission for a career at the air corps. This was one of the dreams which were accomplished apart from the lure of adventure in a foreign country. He was able to go to China as a result of his participation as a volunteer. He started keeping his war diary from September 24 1941 when they left for China via Honolulu. The American volunteer group was a covert government operation that had been approved by President Roosevelt. Its main aim was to offer military assistance to the republic of China. During this period, the United States had not involved itself in the war and was officially neutral. However, President Roosevelt considered American volunteer group as essential to the Chinese who were defending themselves from the invasion of Japan since 1937. While working for American volunteer group, Charlie explains in his diary how he had fun as they were moving from one place to another including Singapore. At one instance, he writes on how he spotted a girl who attracted his attention. He also went to watch movies with his friends and they had fun (page 32).
He was able to get more training at Toungoo together with other volunteers using the airplanes. The training was supervised by General Chennault and some of the training they got included attaining higher speed by descending on the enemy, firing gun shots, closing in, and peeling off. They were also advised to always fly in pairs and enter the combat with a winning attitude. The training was done for several weeks over the skies of Burma. Charlie was able to get some piloting experience from the training (Bond & Anderson, 1984).
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Charlie had a taste of the battle while under the AVG. it was on December 1941 when the Japanese had advanced rapidly in the south East Asia and pacific. The AVG drove to the northern China where they parked their planes on alert postures. Charlie indicates how they were eager to meet their enemies as they had P-40s operational and more qualified pilots from the training. They were eventually attacked by the Japanese and it was Charlie’s first time in the battle (World War 2). Everyone wanted to taste the battle (page 57). During the battle, there was a fierce exchange and Charlie indicates that they were hitting the Japanese from all directions, above, right, left and below. He narrowly escaped death in the battle and in his first battle, Charlie barely missed colliding with another plane (page 62). After landing on the ground, he realized that his plane had bullet holes in the right aileron, rudder and on the right stabilizer all of which were under his control. In the three months battle at Rangoon, the outgunned and outnumbered AVG together with RAF were able to fight the outshooting and out flying Japanese planes and the ratio were about 20 to 1. This was a brilliant performance at the war in which Charlie Bond was one of them (Bond & Anderson, 1984).
In May 1942, the AVG in which Charlie was a pilot went to the battle of Salween Gorge where they were able to hold back the Japanese 56 red dragon fighters from entering into China. They were able to kill more than 4, 500 Japanese troops who were then forced to retreat. If the Japanese had crossed the Salween River, they would have taken control of India and China. It was a great achievement for Charlie Bond and his team as they were able to prevent the Japanese troops from entering to China. While working as a pilot with the AVG, Charlie Bond was able to escape twice from gun shots. On may 4 1942, he was shot by the Japanese fighters in Pao Shan China. He was also shot again on 12th June 1942 and in this attack, he carried shrapnel in his head until he met his death. After the disbandment of AVG in July 1942, Charlie was one of the few pilots and ground crews who were left in China together with their commandant General Chennault. After the end of world war two, Bond returned to Thailand and from 1966 to 1967, he worked with air force at several capacities.
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In conclusion, the diary was an intimate record of the battle in the air above Burma and China. The author provides a firsthand account of how it was being a fighter pilot. It is evident that the life of Charlie Bond changed a lot when he got involved in the war. First, he was able to gain more experience as a fighter pilot where he got more training. He had a desire to fly and his desire was accomplished after participating in the war. When participating in the war, Charlie got several physical injuries and was one of the lucky persons who escaped death narrowly. His missions were successful and that is one reason he is regarded as one of the American legends. He was also able to teach others his experiences in war directly and indirectly through writing about his encounters. He was also able to earn a living considering the fact that the great depression had hit the world.