Bill Bonds

Like most Americans, Bill Bonds—the legendary television anchor and news reporter best known for his work at WXYZ-TV—once supported the war in Vietnam.  His on-air duties included reporting the war’s daily progress; off air, he was responsible for writing these lead stories.  Gradually, as he learned more about some of the war’s uglier truths, he became more ambivalent in his support, and in the end, he became such an outspoken critic of the way politicians and top brass military were conducting operations that he stated, “If I had a draft-aged son, I’d send him to Canada…”

Though Bonds is aware that such statements may raise eyebrows among vets, he is, perhaps uniquely qualified to make them.  Bonds is himself a veteran, and even as he was reporting on the Vietnam conflict—America’s first ‘televised’ war—he was balancing his growing dissatisfaction with Washington’s military policies with concern for his younger brother , then serving in Vietnam.  His elder brother, a career officer,  was also involved;  ‘Dickie’ Bonds piloted servicemen to and from Southeast Asia.

“This was the Vietnam I carried with me,” he says in his characteristic baritone,  “even while I was on the air delivering the news.  ‘Will I ever see my kid brother again?’.  Is today the day that Dickie buys it?’”

Although both brothers survived the war, Bond explains that maintaining objectivity was tough.  “Good luck with that, Mr. Anchor,” he told himself at the time, and today maintains, “If I wasn’t always objective, I was always honest.  And in the end, being honest is more important than being objective.”

His grasp of the political nuts and bolts that led up to the Vietnam War is equally impressive, and he shares them with the theatrics of a seasoned actor.  For example, in quoting Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s rough and tumble Secretary of State, he slips seamlessly into a gravelly Bavarian-accented impersonation:  “Vietnam is a guerilla war, and in such a war, the guerilla wins if he doesn’t lose—a conventional army cannot win.”

Bonds’ razor-sharp world view carries over to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He shares his opinions with characteristic cynicism (“I’m beginning to think that the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about is today more powerful than the government”), but always with a fierce underlying patriotism:

“The United States scares me sometimes, but I sure wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Bonds confesses that he misses the daily bustle of the news business, and in the politically correct, somewhat saccharine world of local news, where not much exits by way of honest, hard-hitting editorializing, we viewers of WXYZ-TV miss him just as much.



Contact Us