A-13832, A-13833, A-14881, A-15130, JAN. 3, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 433

A-13832,A-15130,A-13833,A-14881: Jan 3, 1927

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WERE GIVING ATTENTION TO THE SAVING OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY OR HUMAN LIFE AT THE TIME THEIR PERSONAL EFFECTS WERE DESTROYED BY FIRE. REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED FOR THOSE ITEMS OF THEIR PERSONAL PROPERTY AS THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL DECIDE OR DECLARE TO BE REASONABLE. PROPER TO HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRED BY THE SERVICE. OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE ARE EXCLUDED FROM REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4. 1927: I HAVE YOUR LETTERS OF MARCH 31. INCLUDING ALL PRESCRIBED ARTICLES OF EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING WHICH THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW OR REGULATION TO OWN AND USE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES. OR DESTROYED WAS SHIPPED ON BOARD AN UNSEAWORTHY VESSEL BY ORDER OF AN OFFICER AUTHORIZED TO GIVE SUCH ORDER OR DIRECT SUCH SHIPMENT.

A-13832, A-13833, A-14881, A-15130, JAN. 3, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 433

PRIVATE PROPERTY - LOST IN THE MILITARY SERVICE THE TERM "OFFICERS" AS USED IN THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, INCLUDES A WARRANT OFFICER OF THE ARMY. WHERE THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT PERSONS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES, AS INCLUDED IN THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, WERE GIVING ATTENTION TO THE SAVING OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY OR HUMAN LIFE AT THE TIME THEIR PERSONAL EFFECTS WERE DESTROYED BY FIRE, REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED FOR THOSE ITEMS OF THEIR PERSONAL PROPERTY AS THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL DECIDE OR DECLARE TO BE REASONABLE, USEFUL, NECESSARY, AND PROPER TO HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRED BY THE SERVICE. PURSUANT TO DECISION OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR OF DECEMBER 10, 1926, ITEMS OF WEARING APPAREL AND OTHER PERSONAL PROPERTY APPERTAINING SOLELY TO THE WIFE OR OTHER DEPENDENTS OF ARMY PERSONNEL LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE ARE EXCLUDED FROM REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO MAJ. E. T. COMEGYS, UNITED STATES ARMY, JANUARY 3, 1927:

I HAVE YOUR LETTERS OF MARCH 31, JUNE 18, AND JULY 12, 1926, TRANSMITTING FOUR VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, CONSTITUTING THE CLAIMS OF WARRANT OFFICER ROY NORRIS, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR $1,948.64, TECHNICAL SERGEANT THOMAS HENNESSEY, A.B., U.S.D.B., UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR $1,630.07, SERGEANT HARRY A. STECKLER, A.B., U.S.D.B., UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR $791.10, AND CORPORAL FRANK WILLIAMS, D.E.M.L., UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR $206.68, AND REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE LOSSES BRING THE CASES WITHIN THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436.

SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, PROVIDES:

"SECTION 1. THAT PRIVATE PROPERTY BELONGING TO OFFICERS, ENLISTED MEN, AND MEMBERS OF THE NURSE CORPS (FEMALE) OF THE ARMY, INCLUDING ALL PRESCRIBED ARTICLES OF EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING WHICH THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW OR REGULATION TO OWN AND USE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES, AND HORSES AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED BY LAW OR REGULATIONS TO BE PROVIDED BY MOUNTED OFFICERS, WHICH SINCE THE 5TH DAY OF APRIL, 1917, HAS BEEN OR SHALL HEREAFTER BE LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, SHALL BE REPLACED, OR THE DAMAGE THERETO, OR ITS VALUE RECOUPED TO THE OWNER AS HEREINAFTER PROVIDED, WHEN SUCH LOSS, DAMAGE OR DESTRUCTION HAS OCCURRED OR SHALL HEREAFTER OCCUR WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE OWNER IN ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES:

"FIRST. WHEN SUCH PRIVATE PROPERTY SO LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED WAS SHIPPED ON BOARD AN UNSEAWORTHY VESSEL BY ORDER OF AN OFFICER AUTHORIZED TO GIVE SUCH ORDER OR DIRECT SUCH SHIPMENT.

"SECOND. WHEN IT APPEARS THAT SUCH PRIVATE PROPERTY WAS SO LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN CONSEQUENCE OF ITS OWNER HAVING GIVEN HIS ATTENTION TO THE SAVING OF HUMAN LIFE OR PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES WHICH WAS IN DANGER AT THE SAME TIME AND UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES, OR WHILE, AT THE TIME OF SUCH LOSS, DAMAGE, OR DESTRUCTION, THE CLAIMANT WAS ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.

"THIRD. WHEN DURING TRAVEL UNDER ORDERS SUCH PRIVATE PROPERTY, INCLUDING THE REGULATING ALLOWANCE OF BAGGAGE, TRANSFERRED BY A COMMON CARRIER, OR OTHERWISE TRANSPORTED BY THE PROPER AGENT OR AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, IS LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED; BUT REPLACEMENT, RECOUPMENT, OR COMMUTATION IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, WHERE THE PROPERTY WAS OR SHALL BE TRANSPORTED BY A COMMON CARRIER, SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE EXTENT OF SUCH LOSS, DAMAGE, OR DESTRUCTION OVER AND ABOVE THE AMOUNT RECOVERABLE FROM SAID CARRIER.

"FOURTH. WHEN SUCH PRIVATE PROPERTY IS DESTROYED OR CAPTURED BY THE ENEMY, OR IS DESTROYED TO PREVENT ITS FALLING INTO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY, OR IS ABANDONED ON ACCOUNT OF LACK OF TRANSPORTATION OR BY REASON OF MILITARY EMERGENCY REQUIRING ITS ABANDONMENT, OR IS OTHERWISE LOST RWISE LIST IN THE FIELD DURING CAMPAIGN.'

A BOARD OF OFFICERS CONVENED UNDER FINANCE OFFICE MEMORANDUM NO. 7, DATED MAY 21, 1924, REPORTED FEBRUARY 8, 1926, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE LOSS OF WARRANT OFFICER NORRIS' PROPERTY, AS FOLLOWS:

THAT ABOUT 4.00 P.M. ON JUNE 17, 1925, A FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN OCCURRED AT FORT SILL, OKLA. THAT WARRANT OFFICER NORRIS WAS IN HIS QUARTERS A-1, 10, WHEN HE SAW THAT A FIRE HAD OCCURRED IN BUILDING C 1. HE IMMEDIATELY LEFT HIS HOME, PROCEEDED TO THE FIRE AND ASSISTED IN SAVING THE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF THE FLAMES. WHILE HE WAS PERFORMING SUCH DUTIES, BUILDING A-1 CAUGHT FIRE AND CLAIMANT WAS UNABLE TO SAVE ANY OF HIS PERSONAL PROPERTY.

THE LOSS OF THE PRIVATE PROPERTY OF TECHNICAL SERGEANT HENNESSEY AND SERGEANT STECKLER OCCURRED AT THE SAME PLACE AND IN THE SAME FIRE, UNDER VIRTUALLY THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCES. THE EVIDENCE APPEARING IN THESE CASES SHOWS THAT ABOUT 1.30 P.M. JULY 12, 1925, A FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN OCCURRED AT THE ATLANTIC BRANCH, UNITED STATES DISCIPLINARY BARRACKS, GOVERNORS ISLAND, N.Y. SERGEANT HENNESSEY OCCUPIED QUARTERS NO. 3 AND SERGEANT STECKLER WITH HIS FAMILY QUARTERS NO. 4, IN BUILDING NO. 79. BOTH MEN WERE IN THEIR QUARTERS AND AFTER THE SOUNDING OF THE FIRE ALARM THEY MET IN THE HALL OUTSIDE QUARTERS NO. 5 WHERE THE FIRE ORIGINATED. THEY TRIED TO OPEN THE DOOR BUT IT WAS LOCKED. BY THEIR COMBINED EFFORTS THEY BROKE OPEN THE DOOR IN AN ENDEAVOR TO REMOVE ANY PERSON WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN IN THE ROOM AND HAD BEEN OVERCOME BY THE SMOKE AND TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAMES. HOWEVER, NO ONE WAS FOUND IN THE QUARTERS, AND AS THE FIRE HAD GAINED SUCH HEADWAY THAT IT SPREAD TO THE REST OF THE BUILDING, THE MEN WERE FORCED TO LEAVE AND ASSISTED IN REMOVING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY FROM THE POST LAUNDRY WHICH WAS ALSO IN DANGER. THE PROPERTY OF THESE MEN WAS DESTROYED WHILE THEY WERE ENGAGED IN THE MANNER INDICATED.

THE PROPERTY OF CORPORAL WILLIAMS WAS DESTROYED IN A FIRE WHICH OCCURRED AT FORT HAMILTON, .Y., ABOUT 1.30 A.M., FEBRUARY 1, 1925, STARTING IN BUILDING NO. 133, WHICH WAS OCCUPIED AS SLEEPING QUARTERS FOR MEN ON DUTY AT THE STATION. THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT HE WAS DURING THAT TIME ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN FIGHTING THE FIRE AND THE SAVING OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY.

THE ARMY PERSONNEL HERE INVOLVED CONSISTS OF A WARRANT OFFICER AND THREE NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS. THE ACT HAS APPLICATION TO "OFFICERS, ENLISTED MEN, AND MEMBERS OF THE NURSE CORPS (FEMALE) OF THE ARMY.' WHILE THE TERM "OFFICERS" DOES NOT IN ALL CASES INCLUDE WARRANT OFFICERS, THE TERM AS USED IN THE PRESENT ACT WAS EVIDENTLY INTENDED TO INCLUDE BOTH WARRANT OFFICERS AND COMMISSIONED OFFICERS; ACCORDINGLY THE WARRANT OFFICER IS CONSIDERED AS INCLUDED IN THE ACT. THE NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS ARE ENLISTED MEN AND ARE WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE ACT.

IN EACH OF THESE FOUR CASES IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE LOSS OF THEIR PERSONAL PROPERTY OCCURRED UNDER THE SECOND SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED IN SECTION 1 OF THE ABOVE-CITED ACT, AND THAT REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED THEREUNDER FOR SUCH PERSONAL PROPERTY AS THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL DECIDE OR DECLARE TO BE REASONABLE, USEFUL, NECESSARY, AND PROPER TO HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION WHILE IN QUARTERS.

IN AN EXAMINATION OF THE LIST OF ARTICLES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED IT IS NOTED THAT THERE IS LISTED WEARING APPAREL AND OTHER PROPERTY APPERTAINING SOLELY TO THE WIFE OR OTHER DEPENDENTS OF THE CLAIMANTS. IN THIS CONNECTION REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE DECISION OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR OF DECEMBER 10, 1926 (FILE G-4/20138), TO EXCLUDE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE CLASS OF ITEMS INDICATED.

YOU ARE ADVISED THAT BEFORE PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHERS ALL ITEMS OF WEARING APPAREL AND OTHER PROPERTY APPERTAINING SOLELY TO THE WIFE OR OTHER DEPENDENTS OF SUCH MEN SHOULD BE ELIMINATED, SUCH ITEMS NOT BEING WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE ACT. IF, THEN, OTHERWISE CORRECT, PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED.