Last Name:   
First Name: 
Claude Bryant
April 19, 1909 / February 24, 1992
Greenville, South Carolina
Headquarters Staff
Operations and Supply Group Executive Officer
American Theater Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Bronze Star (posthumous), Chinese Decorations (unknown)
Pre AVG: Grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where he became Columbia’s first Eagle Scout.  Graduated from Columbia High School in 1928 and the University of South Carolina in 1932.  A natural athlete, he lettered in football, basketball, track, and swimming, and made the All Southern Conference football team as left tackle in 1931.  During summer vacations he worked on tramp steamers bound for Canada, the West Indies, and Central and South American countries; this brought him the nickname “Skip.”
As a member of the Kelly Field Class of 1934, he soloed over Randolph Field on August 13, 1934, and later graduated from the Kelly Field Advanced Flight School Class of 1935 in the bombardment section.  He served on active duty at Langley Field, Virginia, until September 24, 1937, when he went to inactive status with the reserves.  While at Langley he participated as copilot in the first transcontinental formation flight of B-17’s (from Langley Field to March Field) and also flew in a formation flight of nine Martin B-10 Bombers.  Upon leaving active duty he flew as pilot for Eastern Air Lines until early 1938.
Recruited by Col. Claire Lee Chennault in 1938 to serve as an instructor for the Chinese Air Force, he landed at Hong Kong on November 3, 1938, to begin a 2-year contract as American Chief Instructor/Check Pilot, Primary Stage, at the Chinese Air Force Cadet School in Yunnan-yi.  After brief duty at Mengtsz, he reported to Yunnan-yi in late December 1938, and later moved with his section of the school to Tsuyung, also in Yunnan Province, where his wife Jeanette S. “Steve” Adair joined him for about a year.  He arrived back in the States in February 1941.  A memorandum from Chennault dated April 7, 1941, requested that 1st Lieutenant C. B. Adair, Air Corps Reserve, assist in the procurement of American personnel for service in China.
AVG Service: During the months leading to the formation of the AVG, Skip Adair traveled, under authority of the White House, to the various Army Air Corps facilities and recruited pilots and ground personnel for the AVG.  By September 1941 he was at Rangoon Burma, to greet the recruits.  His letters home describe how each person in the AVG seems to do the work of 10 people and that his own duties include “Acting Commanding Officer while Claire is away” and also Supply, Food, Transportation, Housing, and at times Adjutant and Finance.  Various orders appoint him “Group Executive Officer” and “Group Commander in absence of General Chennault.”  His letters also reflect how very proud he was of the work accomplished by members of the AVG.
Accepted a commission as Major on July 4, 1942, and stayed on in China on Gen. Chennault’s China Air Task Force staff as Operations Officer, and finally left China about Christmas 1942.  After China, he was stationed at the Pentagon and at Mitchell Field, New York, eventually attaining the rank of Colonel.  He received an Honorable Discharge from the Air Force on December 16, 1947, by reason of physical disqualification.
Post War Career:
Following his discharge from the Air Force, Skip returned to his favorite spot on earth, Greenville, SC, to spend more time with family and on the golf course at the Greenville Country Club.  He played golf to a 6 handicap and taught the whole family to play.  He worked in various sales positions until becoming an agent for Aetna Life.  He retired after a long career with Aetna Life, but always regarded his service with the AVG as his greatest accomplishment.
He died at home of cancer in 1992, and was survived by his wife of 53 years Jeanette S. “Steve” Adair; his sister Priscilla Adair, who had assisted in recruiting for the AVG; son C. B. “Mike” Adair, Jr., daughter Barbara “Pat” Adair Bothe, and daughter Stephanie Adair Vickery – all three of whom graduated from Skip’s Alma Mater, the University of South Carolina; and grandsons J. Michael Bothe and David S. Bothe.
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