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
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?