In my February issue of the Minnesota Legionnaire, there was a great article about a Flying Tiger from Minnesota by the name of Whitey Johnson from Ortonville.
This, of course, prompted me write about our own Flying Tiger from Anoka.
He is Charles Hall. “Chuck” was born in Anoka in 1922 and grew up just one block from where I was born.
He graduated from Anoka High School in 1940 and then joined the National Guard. Soon after, our Guard was federalized and transferred to Camp Claiborne in Louisiana where Gen. Eisenhower was in charge.
Soon after, he had a chance to join the Air Force Cadet Program, which I think prompted me to do the same in July 1943.
When he graduated,after several moves, he became a fighter pilot and flew P-40s with the Flying Tigers in China and Burma.
He had a request from Carl Molesworth, the author of several books on World War II aviation, to write to him about his Flying Tiger experiences.
I would like to write about all of his experiences in “dog fights” he had with the Japanese pilots, but it would fill this whole page.
His whole report to Molesworth is available at the Anoka County History Center for you to read any time. I encourage you to do so.
Here are a couple of examples. He wrote, “Combat missions, from Kunming, included intercepting Japanese fighters and bombers.
“The longest mission, during this period was to Luang Prabang, Thailand. It was a memorable mission to me, because the old P-40 engine ‘quit cold’ six times, while I was strafing their Airfield with my six 50-caliber machine guns.
“I switched gas tanks, adjusted mixture control, and the prop pitch and got the engine started six times, fortunately.
“When I was able to return to base. I wrote up the problem. However the next pilot who flew this plane ended up a prisoner of war in Japan.”
The other experience I chose was after they got the new P-51 “Mustangs.” Chuck wrote this was most memorable, even after nearly 70 years.
He wrote, “This mission, five of us took off to escort and protect a squadron of bombers headed for Hong Kong.
“Suddenly a Japanese fighter came diving down, directly out of the sun, his target clearly being me, and in less than two seconds I pushed full throttle, full RPM, turned on gun sight, flipped on gun switch, pulled up directly in his path with my guns blazing. He broke away and dove straight into the ground.”
First Lt. Charles J. Hall was relieved from active duty Aug. 17, 1945. Chuck’s father had died while he was in China. He came home and made sure his mother was doing OK, then enrolled at the University of Minnesota.
One day, while studying at home, the postman knocked and presented him with his air combat medals.
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, two air medals: the Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with a Bronze Star and the American Defense Ribbon, as well as the Free China Victory Medal, which was issued by our Chinese allies.
Chuck met his wife Laurie at the U of M. They married and settled in Rugby, N.D. He became a manager and officer of C. & J. Inc., a well known department store and furniture chain in the Dakotas.
They now live in Littleton, Colo., and spend their winters in Arizona. They travel a lot and sometimes act as tour guides in Europe.
Editor’s note: Tom Ward is a member of the Anoka County Historical Society board of directors.