BOND, Burnis Leroy


By: Bruce Danforth

Corporal Burnis Leroy Bond was a Corporal in the U. S. Marines. Killed on the U. S. S. Arizona on December 7, 1941. Bond was scheduled to go home for Christmas when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.

Bond had worked his way up from loader, pointer, director, to the position of gun captain. He was known to use every spare moment to practice and he worked his gun crew hard.

While serving with the Marines, “Bernie” was selected to be a member of the USS Arizona Whale Boat Racing Team. His team won every race in the Pacific Fleet Races they were in, except for one.

Learn more about the Whale Boat Race Team, as remembered by Russell J. McCurdy (source):

During the summer of 1941, the Marine detachment engaged in the Whale Boat competition with the Pacific Fleet.

We raced against other Marine detachments, and won. We pulled against all the divisions of our ship, and won.

In getting ready for the Fleet Championship run off, the USS Arizona had to field a team. The ship’s captain, Franklin Van Valkenburgh, thought the best men from each division should make up the team.

Major Alan Shapley, our Detachment Commander, had been competitor at the Naval Academy (Class of 1927) in football, basketball and track. In 1926, he was also quarterback on the Navy eleven that won the National Championship. They went on to play the University of Washington in the Rose Bowl. He was also theManager and first baseman on the USS Arizona’s basebll team.

With this background in competitive sports and his judgement of our Marine Whale Boat team, he thought all of his Whale Boat Marines were #1. Major Shapley suggested to the Captain that a two or three run off of Marines against the best Navy men would tell the story. The Marines won all the play off races and became the USS Arizona team in the fall fleet races. We finished runner-up having lost by two feet to the Fleet Champions from the USS Pennsylvania. I was part of that team.

On December 7, 1941, the only survivors of that team were Sgt. John Baker and me, Pvt. Russell McCurdy.

Corporal Burnis Leroy Bond was a true hero and we salute him.

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