A-99538, DECEMBER 14, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 546

A-99538: Dec 14, 1938

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PROPERTY - PRIVATE - LOST OR DESTROYED IN MILITARY SERVICE ARMY AIR CORPS RESERVE OFFICER IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4. AS FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST 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. THE CLAIMANT WAS ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. WAS NOT ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE. THERE WAS NO SAVING OF HUMAN LIFE INVOLVED. SUCH OF HIS ATTENTION AS WAS GIVEN TO THE SAVING OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY WAS CONFINED TO THE HELPING "TO MOVE SOME GOVERNMENT COTS AND BLANKETS" AWAY FROM THE BUILDING AFTER THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF SAVING ANY MORE OF HIS OWN PROPERTY.

A-99538, DECEMBER 14, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 546

PROPERTY - PRIVATE - LOST OR DESTROYED IN MILITARY SERVICE ARMY AIR CORPS RESERVE OFFICER IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, AS FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST 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," WHERE THE OFFICER, AFTER DISCOVERY OF THE FIRE WHILE LYING ON THE BED IN HIS QUARTERS, DEVOTED HIS TIME TO THE SAVING OF SUCH OF HIS OWN PROPERTY AS POSSIBLE; WAS NOT ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE; THERE WAS NO SAVING OF HUMAN LIFE INVOLVED; AND SUCH OF HIS ATTENTION AS WAS GIVEN TO THE SAVING OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY WAS CONFINED TO THE HELPING "TO MOVE SOME GOVERNMENT COTS AND BLANKETS" AWAY FROM THE BUILDING AFTER THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF SAVING ANY MORE OF HIS OWN PROPERTY.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO LIEUTENANT COLONEL W. M. DIXON, UNITED STATES ARMY, DECEMBER 14, 1938:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17, 1938, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE PAYMENT ON A VOUCHER TRANSMITTED THEREWITH STATED IN FAVOR OF SECOND LIEUTENANT CHARLES F. SCOTT, JR., AIR-RES., UNITED STATES ARMY, IN THE AMOUNT OF $68.15, COVERING HIS CLAIM UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, FOR THE LOSS OF HIS PERSONAL PROPERTY BY FIRE WHICH DESTROYED THE BUILDING IN WHICH HE WAS ASSIGNED QUARTERS WHILE PARTICIPATING IN FIELD MANEUVERS OF THE EIGHTH ATTACK SQUADRON.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES ASCERTAINED AND DETERMINED BY THE BOARD OF OFFICERS AND APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF WAR, ARE AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THAT ON MAY 12, 1938, AT APPROXIMATELY 4:15 P.M., A FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN OCCURRED AT THE OVERBROOK GOLF CLUB, LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA; THAT THE OVERBROOK GOLF CLUB WAS THE AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT QUARTERS FURNISHED IN THE FIELD FOR 21 MEMBERS OF THE AIR CORPS, OF WHICH THE CLAIMANT WAS A MEMBER, ONE MEMBER OF THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT, AND ONE MEMBER OF THE MEDICAL RESERVE, ALL STATIONED AT AIRDROME, LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA, FOR THE PERIOD OF THE GHQ AIR FORCE MANEUVERS, SAID QUARTERS BEING CONTRACTED FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT; THAT ALL PROPERTY, GOVERNMENT AND PERSONAL, IN SAID QUARTERS AT THE TIME OF THE FIRE WAS AUTHORIZED AS NECESSARY IN THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF MILITARY DUTY BY THE OCCUPANTS OF SAID QUARTERS; AND THAT THE QUARTERS WERE PROPERLY SAFEGUARDED BY REGULARLY ASSIGNED AIR CORPS ENLISTED PERSONNEL AS GUARDS THEREOF; THAT AT THE TIME THE FIRE BROKE OUT, THE CLAIMANT WAS IN HIS QUARTERS; THAT WHEN HE FIRST SAW THE SMOKE HE MADE NO EFFORT TO MOVE AS HE THOUGHT THE SMOKE WAS COMING FROM A STOVE WHICH WAS BEING STOKED; THAT THE SMOKE GREW SO THICK HE REALIZED THE BUILDING WAS ON FIRE; THAT HE THEN CARRIED OUT AS MANY OF HIS PERSONAL BELONGINGS AS HE COULD; THAT HE THEN RETURNED AND CARRIED OUT A FEW MORE OF HIS POSSESSIONS; THAT HE STARTED TO GO BACK THE THIRD TIME BUT THAT THE SMOKE WAS SO DENSE AND THE HEAT SO INTENSE HE WAS UNABLE TO DO SO; THAT HE THEN MOVED HIS BELONGINGS AWAY FROM THE BURNING BUILDING, AND THEN HELPED TO MOVE SOME GOVERNMENT COTS AND BLANKETS; THAT THE ARTICLES HEREINAFTER LISTED, BELONGING TO THE CLAIMANT, WERE DESTROYED IN THE FIRE AND THAT THE LOSS WAS NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE.

THE BOARD FURTHER FINDS THAT THE PROPERTY FOR WHICH CLAIM IS MADE WAS LOST WHILE AT THE TIME OF SUCH LOSS THE CLAIMANT WAS ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH; * * *

THIS CLAIM IS ASSERTED UNDER THE THIRD CIRCUMSTANCE SET OUT IN PARAGRAPH 2, SECTION I OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, WHICH AUTHORIZED REIMBURSEMENT:

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.

THE STATUTE COVERS A SITUATION WHERE THE OWNER IS PREVENTED FROM SAVING HIS PERSONAL PROPERTY DUE TO THE FACT HE IS ENGAGED IN SAVING HUMAN LIFE, OR IN SAVING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY IN DANGER AT THE SAME TIME, OR IS OTHERWISE ENGAGED IN MILITARY DUTY IN CONNECTION WITH THE CATASTROPHE OR EVENT WHICH PRODUCED AND WHICH WAS THE CAUSE OF THE LOSS. LIEUTENANT SCOTT STATED HIS ACTIVITIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE AS FOLLOWS:

* * * I WAS LYING ON MY BUNK IN THE BUILDING WHICH WAS SERVING AS FIELD QUARTERS FOR OFFICERS OF THE 8TH ATTACK SQUADRON AT LANCASTER, PA., WHEN I NOTICED SMOKE NEAR THE CEILING OF THE ROOM. * * * I GOT UP, PUT MY RAINCOAT OVER MY UNDERWEAR, AND CARRIED AS MANY OF MY PERSONAL BELONGINGS AS I COULD OUT OF DOORS. I WENT BACK INTO THE ROOM WHICH, BY THAT TIME, WAS SO FILLED WITH SMOKE I COULD NOT SEE MY BED 15 FEET FROM THE DOOR. GOT A FEW MORE OF MY POSSESSIONS AND LEFT THE BUILDING. I STARTED TO GO BACK IN A THIRD TIME, BUT THE SMOKE WAS SO DENSE, AND THE HEAT SO INTENSE, THAT I COULD NOT ENTER. I THEN MOVED MY BELONGINGS AWAY FROM THE BUILDING AND HELPED TO MOVE SOME GOVERNMENT COTS AND BLANKETS BACK. I DRESSED MYSELF AND WATCHED THE BUILDING BURN TO THE GROUND.

THE FACTS PRESENTED SHOW THAT CLAIMANT WAS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, AND AT THE TIME THE FIRE BROKE OUT WAS LYING ON THE BED IN HIS QUARTERS. SUCCEEDED IN SAVING SOME OF HIS PERSONAL PROPERTY, BUT WAS PREVENTED FROM SAVING ALL OF IT BY THE DENSENESS OF THE SMOKE AND INTENSITY OF THE HEAT. THERE APPEARS NOTHING TO SHOW THAT THE LOSS OF THE ARTICLES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED OCCURRED BY REASON OF THE CLAIMANT BEING ENGAGED IN SAVING HUMAN LIFE, IN SAVING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY IN DANGER AT THE SAME TIME OR BECAUSE HE WAS ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE. THE FACTS SHOWN ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO BRING HIS CLAIM UNDER THE CONTINGENCIES PRESCRIBED BY THE STATUTE.

YOU ARE ADVISED THAT PAYMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED ON THE VOUCHER RETURNED HEREWITH.