Captain N.J. "Dusty" Kleiss

Personnel Problems

When the ENTERPRISE landed at Pearl Harbor I was given the task to check out the financial problem and the story of a newly arrived apprentice seaman. He was much older than other new seamen, perhaps in his thirties. He came from the hills in the Old South and clearly had little experience in dealing with big city slickers.

As a railroad welder, with a wife and kids, he went to a big city post office and saw a poster offering great pay for shipyard welders. One location was in Pearl Harbor. He was advised to go to an office upstairs where the helpful man told him that welders were needed and he could immediately be sent to Pearl Harbor. Since the welder was completely honest and uninitiated he signed some papers without reading them.

When he arrived at the train station, the "helpful man" asked him to supervise the young group assembled there, going to the west coast, because he was much older. The others were in sailor uniforms.

When the welder proudly turned over the group to the designated recipient in San Diego, the man demanded. "Why aren't you in uniform?"

Obviously the "helpful man" was a recruiter wishing to meet his quota.

The apprentice seaman did get to do welding in Pearl Harbor. It was on the ENTERPRISE working with other civil service shipyard welders. Their pay was many times his. At the end of their eight hour day the civilians left. The seaman cleaned up the mess, changed uniform and went on watch.

I observed that he was a good welder and made my report. A day or two later our squadron moved ashore. I never did hear whether welfare helped him out, nor did I ever get to see him again.

When WW II accelerated, our busy schedule caused hard choices, or principles, to put officers between a rock and a hard place. As entries in this log book show, our "free time" was often taken up with court martials and paper work.

One ENTERPRISE squadron, (I will never tell which one) received a new rated man who was inept and a trouble maker. He was quickly promoted into an advanced rating which was in excess of the squadron's number of allowance for that rating. He was transferred to a shore based station. His obvious inability's quickly resulted in him be being busted down to his appropriate rating. The shore station had more spare time than the ENTERPRISE.

One of our enlisted men was killed in action at sea. I was ordered, with two enlisted men, to inventory the belongings in his locker. On the top shelf was a completely addressed envelope containing the man's application for a $10,000 government insurance policy, listing his wife as beneficiary; also a signed and approved medical statement. All that was needed was a ten dollar premium, sealing it and putting the envelope into the mail.

Had there been no witnesses I know what I would have done. I would have slipped in a ten dollar bill, sealed it, and dropped it into the ship's post office slot. Since we were at sea, the postmark would have obtusificated the date because we were at sea. Since witnesses were present 1 had to bring the envelope to our skipper, Lt. Gallaher. Nothing could be done. The widow got nothing. I often compare the nisei citizens who were inconvenienced for their detention, and were given $20,000. This widow received nothing.

Others who received nothing were the pilots who kept their dress unifonns in the Bachelor Officer's Quarter (BOQ) on Ford Island while they were at sea. The rooms on the BOQ had no locks, only green curtains.

During the Pearl Harbor attack many battleship men came ashore almost naked or with oil soaked clothes beyond usage. Someone told them that there were clothes in the BOQ. Some mess attendants were observed brilliantly attired in trousers with gold stripes and jackets with gold epaulets. The officers really didn't need this regalia during war time.

Another group who got nothing from the government were the enlisted personnel who were sent from San Diego, CA, to the Douglas Aircraft Factory in El Segundo, CA. They and the original Scouting Six pilots flew back in the first SBD's for the squadron. The pilots reported their expenses for lodging and meals individually and received payment quickly. Regulations required that all the enlisted crew had to be included in a single document sent to Washington, D.C. for approval and payment. Each of the men were owed 35 dollars for the money they paid for meals, bus fares and other expenses. That was quite a sum of money at that time.

Time passed. Three Scouting Six skippers made repeated requests for payment due to these enlisted men. Then came the final answer. "The original request had arrived in Washington but could no longer be located. Payment can only be paid on originals. Duplicate payment request cannot be paid." Or words to that effect.

To this day John Snowden and Don Hoff are still waiting for their 35 dollars. Some day the original paper will show up in a dusty filing cabinet.

A couple of months after the war started, the ENTERPRISE paymaster asked for his advice, in confidence, from the senior squadron officers. He had noticed that seven enlisted men on the Big E were sending allotments to their wives at the same address. However it became apparent that only one woman lived at that address. Should the men be told or not be told?

The final consensus was that the matter should be kept secret and the men not told. They would be devastated and their essential performance would suffer.

Sometimes, being assistant personnel officer, you learned things you really didn't was to know. I also wore "another hat" as educational officer. Scoring tests for promotion advancement was more interesting. I still have my little black book which gives the scores received in promotion exams. John Snowden ranked first in all of the categories. Isn't coincidence a wonderful thing? That he just "happened" to become my radioman gunner?