The third annual Captain Ronald Bond Duals wrestling tournament in is being held today at Haddonfield Memorial High School.
The event honors Bond, one of the only Vietnam-era veterans from Haddonfield listed as missing in action and later declared dead.
In 2009, Haddonfield’s wrestling coach Pete DiPol, along with Bond’s wrestling teammate and best friend Gene Kain, organized the first Captain Ronald Bond Duals, a wrestling tournament in honor of Bond. At the inaugural duals, Kain described Bond as “the ultimate team player.”
The high school wrestling room is named after Bond. This weekend, the newly renovated Ronald L. Bond wrestling room will be re-dedicated to Bond. Gene Kain, a former borough mayor and director of Kain-Murphy Funeral Services, will return to lead the presentation and ceremony on behalf of his high school friend. Bond’s niece, Faith Sutton of Medford and nephew Quin Bond of Union Beach, NJ, are hoping to attend Saturday’s ceremony.
"Five schools will compete in the duals, Moorestown, Pennsauken, Penns Grove, Sterling and Haddonfield. Medals will be presented to each weight division winner," Bill Heverly, the new head wrestling coach at Haddonfield, said.
Members of the American Legion will be present to keep the tradition alive that was started with Coach DiPol.
For members of the Bond family, having Ron remembered with the wrestling duals and re-dedication of the wrestling room the day after his birthday is truly special.
“In my heart, Ron is still alive,” Hope Bond, the widow of Ron’s brother Errol, said.
The 2012 Ronald Bond Duals begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. The presentation and re-dedication of the Captain Ronald L. Bond Wrestling Room at Haddonfield Memorial High School will take place between duals, sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. The public is welcome.
Determination, dedication and honor
Friday would have been Bond's 65th birthday. He was a 1965 graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School and a standout on the high school wrestling team. Bond was known by his high school teammates as someone who would do anything for the good of the wrestling team and in the end, gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Throughout his youth, Bond's love of sports was always present. At the age of 12, his Little League team went to the state finals. The same year, Ron was a Tri-County swimming and diving champion. In high school, wrestling became his passion. During his junior year, Bond won the district title for his weight category and placed third in the region. Bond continued wrestling at the Air Force Academy, where he also excelled in the classroom by being listed on the commandant’s list, dean’s list and superintendent’s list.
According to Bond's sister-in-law, Hope Bond, after Ron graduated from the Academy in 1969, he received navigator training, followed by training as a Weapons Systems Officer at Davis Monthan AFB. At first, Bond received an assignment to South Korea he did not want. Soon after, he was assigned to the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Danang Air Base in South Vietnam and arrived on Feb. 6, 1971.
On March 8, 1971, less than 30 days after his arrival in Vietnam, the Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded to First Lt. Ronald L. Bond for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. Other recognitions received by Bond included the Air Medal for Meritorious Achievement while participating in aerial flight from Feb. 23, 1971, to March 13, 1971.
The last known communication with Ron took place during an operational mission in Laos. Ron was the navigator of a F-4E aircraft with Capt. Michael L. Donovan on Sept. 30, 1971. The aircraft failed to return to Danang. After an extensive search, the two men were declared “missing in action.”
Ron's last mission was his 150th mission in 222 days. Because of a shortage of navigators, Ron took every opportunity to fly with squadrons other than his own—one more example of how Ron would do anything for the good of the team.
On Feb. 6, 1979, Captain Ronald L. Bond was officially declared killed in action.
Inaugural Captain Ronald Bond wrestling duals
On Dec. 30, 2009, eight wrestling teams participated in the inaugural duals. Members of the Bond family attended, including sister-in-law Hope Bond, nephew Quin Bond, niece Faith Sutton and great-nephew, Patrick Sutton. Members of the American Legion manned POW/MIA tables and Kain shared his memories of Ron with the audience.