Flier’s refueling and on-board court (and not King Neptune’s!) pt. 1

Posted by Rebekah
May 23 2010

The Deck Log for Flier is rather interesting today.  They are still underway en route to Johnston Atoll (and as soon as I can get Google Earth back up and running, I’ll make up something that shows where these places all are, I promise), but two crewmen on Flier are about to have an uncomfortable morning.

From the Deck Log of USS Flier dated Tuesday 23 May, 1944

“0800-1200 [hours]:  Underway as before.  0920 A summary court-martial, Lieut. J.W. Liddell, Jr.USNR, senior member, met to try the case of PAYNE, Chester <personal identification redacted by me> S1c, USN, and COWIE, John William, <personal identification redacted by me> MM3c USNR, and adjourned at 1045 to await action of the convening authority…”

My guess is this is not one case, but actually two different ones, now tried at the same time, both of which originated during the crew’s two weeks in Pearl Harbor.

Those must have been some two weeks.  They arrived on May 8, and over 12 days, took on eight new hands (POURCIAU, Kit Joesph, S1c on 5/9; HELLER, Eugene Wilson S2c on 5/9; MOENCH, Vernon Leo S1c on 5/9; Ensign LEIGHTLEY, Albert L and Ens. MINER, Herbert A, both of whom their orders arrived on 5/9 but neither man reported until the next morning; CHRISTENSEN, Christian John, S1c on 5/14; BOHN, Thomas LeRoy MM3c on 5/14; and finally VOGHT, James Frank RT2c on 5/14) , transferred one man off (MURRAY, Bruce Franklin S1c for disqualification and reassignment) went on three practice patrols, and held THREE Captain’s Masts for three crewmen of three different offenses: PAYNE, Chester, for fighting short patrol and knocking them overboard; COWIE, John William for disobeying a lawful order; DONOVAN, Thomas Armstrong, for being Absent Without Leave for 2 days, 20 hours and 30 minutes.

A Captain’s Mast is a non-judicial affair where the commanding officer can investigate minor offenses allegedly committed by those under his command.  It is not a trial, though the commanding officer in question can dismiss the charges, refer the case to a court martial, or impose a punishment according to the rules of military law.

Despite happening the  last, Donovan’s offense was dealt with while still at Pearl.  The Captain’s Mast on Friday 19 May 1944 fined him $50 for the absence, to be docked from his pay at the rate of $25/month for 2 months.  Considering the fact that he was likely making less than $100/month at the time, that was a fairly severe punishment.  To be fair however, Donovan’s absence was probably longer than he wanted.  According to the records, his absence was first noticed at the 5:55 am muster of the crew on 5/11.  They went for a day patrol, then came back.  The next morning, they left early again, then didn’t come back until the evening of 5/13.  The records specifically state that Flier moored at the Submarine Base at 1537 hours (for non-military, that’s 3:37 pm) but Donovan reported aboard at 1500 hours.  Not sure if this is an indication of slightly shoddy record keeping or Donovan’s desperate swim to the Flier as she crossed Pearl!  (kidding).  For the 2 days, 20 hours and 30 minutes Donovan was gone, Flier was in port for only about 12 hours of that.

Payne’s and Cowie’s Captain’s Masts however (PAYNE’S held on 5/10 for charges occurring at some unmentioned time, but likely during the 48 hours they had been at Pearl, and COWIE’S held on 5/12 for charges likely occurring while on a practice patrol around Hawaii) had more serious consequences:  they were referred to Summary Court Martial, or SCM.  More on what that is and what it entailed tomorrow.


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