Recruiting the AVG
Procurement of Personnel for China
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
Office of the Secretary
CONFIDENTIAL February 1, 1941
SUBJECT: Procurement of Personnel for China
1. Mr. Pawley and Colonel Chennault
called today and informed me that an agreement had been reached
between Curtiss, Inter-Continent and the Chinese for the servicing
of 100 P-40's for China. It is also agreed that Inter-Continent will handle
the procurement of American personnel.
2. Personnel requirements are:
150 enlisted ground crew.
They emphasized the need
for experienced personnel and the only feasible solution appears to be
Reserve officers and enlisted men. They are ready to send [their?] people,
Pawley, Leighton and Chennault, at once to the Air Stations, both Army
and Navy, to find volunteers. They realize the necessity for keeping
things quiet and will take due precautions.
3. The following will
(a) Approval by War and Navy Departments of resignations of Reserve
personnel without detriment to their future status in the service,
in order to accept employment with the Central Aircraft Corporation.
Note: BuNav is ready
to do this, but it will have to be taken up with the Army, and I
understand that General Arnold has not yet been informed by Secretary
Stimson. I suggest that you personally take this up with Secretary
Stimson, and also with Admiral Towers, who is not very enthusiastic
about the idea, I believe.
(b) Deferment of draft through Mr. [illegible], inasmuch as these
people will all be subject to draft as soon as released from Reserve status.
(c) Passports to be cleared by State Department, the applicants
requesting passports to China for employment with Central Aircraft
Note: I have taken
this up with the State Department and they are willing to issue the
passports to individuals as bona fide employees of Central Aircraft.
(d) Pawley, Leighton and Chennault should have letters from someone in
the War and Navy Departments, either the Secretarys or Chiefs of
Personnel, authorizing them to visit the various Air Stations.
(e) It was pointed out to me that this considerable organization would
hardly be worth sounding out and estabishing unless there were an
excellent prospect for further rlease of planes to carry on the work.
They will have to start more or less from scratch in [illegible]
and work their way in against probable opposition.
Introducing the recruiters
April 14, 1941
MEMORANDUM FOR Command Officer, Naval Air Station, Jacksonville
1. This letter introduces
Mr. C. L. Chennault, who has the permission of the Navy Department
to visit your station.
2. He will explain
the purpose of his visit.
FRANK K. BEATTY
Captain, U.S. Navy
Aide to the Secretary
[Identical letters went to the Navy Air Stations at Opa
Locka and Pensacola, Norfolk, and San Diego. Capt. Beatty
used the same phrasing in letters introducing Rutledge Irvine
of CAMCO to the air stations at Norfolk, Pensacola, Opa Locka,
and Jacksonville, and Corpus Christi, and to the Marine
Barracks at Quantico. Perhaps because of resistance to these
early visits, he was more emphatic when it came to
August 4, 1941
MEMORANDUM FOR Captain James M. Shoemaker, USN, Commanding
Officer, U.S. Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
letter introduces Lt. C. B. Adair, who has the permission
of the Navy Department to visit your station. He will explain
the purpose of his visit.
2. It has
been the policy of our Government for some time to facilitate
the hiring by the Chinese Government of pilots and mechanics
from our Services. The above-mentioned officer is a representative
of the Intercontinent Company, which company is doing the hiring
for the Chinese Government. The cooperation of the Commanding
Officer is requested in permitting this representativde to
interview pilots on your Station, to see if they are interested
in being hired by the Intercontinent Company for service in China.
FRANK K. BEATTY
Captain, U.S. Navy
Aide to the Secretary
Memo for Admiral Nimitz
BUREAU OF NAVIGATION
August 7, 1941
Memorandum for Admiral Nimitz
Subject: Releases of naval personnel to accept employment in China
with the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company.
The following is a general statement of my
knowledge of the subject of this memorandum.
1. About three months ago [early May?]
then Director of Naval Reserve, told me for advance information that
there was a possibility of our being required to release from active
duty a considerable number of officers and enlisted personnel for the
purpose of accepting employment in China with the Central Aircraft
2. About two months ago [early June?] I
was called in to a conference to discuss this subject, at which the
following officers were present, so far as I can recall: Captain
Bidwell, Captain Shafroth, Captain Briggs, Captain Good and myself;
also Mr. Bruce Leighton and Captain Aldworth, U.S.A. Air Corps, Ret.,
the latter two being representatives of C.A.M.C.O. It was indicated
that the plan to release personnel for the purpose indicated had been
approved by the Secretary of the Navy. My distinct impression was that
the Secretary in turn had received his instructions from the President.
A general discussion ensued as to the circumstances
under which the individuals released might resume their naval status
upon completion of such service. It was determined that all naval
personnel, Regular and Naval Reserve, who were accepted for such
employment must first be discharged from the Navy so that they would
have no connection whatever with the armed forces of the United States.
3. It was agreed
tht reserve officers who resigned might later apply for reappointment
in the same rank as at the time of separation.
At the direction of the Department, they might even be reappointed at a
higher rank, or be required to serve less than the normal period in grade
for promotion to the next higher rank. No particular problem appeared
in connection with officers of classes other than A-V(N) [reserve
aviators]. They would of course lose the retirement benefits in case of
disability or death in line of duty, which accrue to personnel on active
duty under certain circumstances. In the case of A-V(N) officers they
would also lose the bonus which accrues for continuous service under the
4. Most of the discussion pertained to status
of enlisted men of the Regular Navy of long service.... It was agreed
that such personnel could be reenlisted in their former
ratings and serve out the remainder of the active duty required to
complete 20 years. In other words, their service with C.A.M.C.O. would
be time lost but would not prevent their transfer to the Fleet Reserve
after a total of 20 years' active naval service.
Captain Briggs stated that the Department could legally reenlist such
personnel, even though seriously physically disabled by accident or
otherwise during the period of their civilian employment.
5. It was agreed that none of the requests
would be handled by mail in the usual way, but that in all cases
representatives of the C.A.M.C.O or naval officers would act as courier
messengers to bring to the Navy Department the requests for release and
separation from the Service, and to vouch for their authenticity.
6. It was my understanding that the original
quotas of service personnel to be released for this prupose would be 100
officer pilots and 200 skilled aviation enlisted men, distributed
approximately one-third to be furnished by the Navy and two-thirds by
the Army. Up to this date, the Navy has released 23 A-V(N) officers for
this purpose, and no Regular Navy officers. It is unde4rstood that the
Marine Corps has released 3 marine reserve aviators. I do not know how
many enlisted men have been released by the Navy or Naval Reserve.
7. I have at no time seen anything in writing
regarding this program.
8. It is my understanding from Captain Beatty
that there is a strong likelihood that the
number of pilots and enlisted men directed to be released at their own
requests for this purpose may be increased three or fourfold.
J. B. Lynch
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