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HEARING ON H. R. 2337, FOR THE RELIEF OF JOSEPH DEFEO
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PRIVATE BILLS NO. 1,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday, February 16, 1944.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a. m., the Honorable Michael J. Bradley presiding, for consideration of H. R. 2337, which is as follows:
[H. R. 2337, 78th Cong., 1st sess.]
A BILL For the relief of John Joseph Defeo
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in the administration of any laws conferring rights, privileges, and benefits upon honorably discharged sailors, John Joseph Defeo, late of the United States Navy, shall hereafter be held and considered to have been honorably discharged from the naval service of the United States as a member of the United States Navy on the 2d day of April 1920: Provided, That no bounty, back pay, pension, or allowance shall be held to have accrued prior to the passage of this Act.
Mr. BRADLEY. We next have for consideration H. R. 2337, a bill introduced by Mr. O'Toole, for the relief of John Joseph Defeo. The clerk will read the report.
(Thereupon the report was read by the clerk as follows:)
FOR THE RELIEF OF JOHN JOSEPH DEFEO (H. R. 2337). MR. O'TOOLE
Hon. CARL VINSON,
NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, April 26, 1943.
House of Representatives.
MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The bill (H. R. 2337) for the relief of John Joseph Defeo, was referred to the Navy Department by your committee with request for views and recommendation thereon.
The purpose of the bill H. R. 2337 is to consider John Joseph Defeo as having been honorably discharged from the Navy on April 2, 1920.
The records of the Navy Department show that John Joseph Defeo was born on July 2, 1894, and enlisted in the Navy on October 15, 1915. On May 8, 1916, he deserted and was delivered to naval jurisdiction on July 8, 1916. He was tried by general court martial, found guilty of desertion, was sentenced to be confined for a period of 18 months, to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy, and to suffer all other accessories of his sentence. His sentence was approved on July 24, 1916, but the period of confinement with corresponding accessories was reduced to 12 months. The Navy Department directed that Defeo be informed that if he would reimburse the Government for the amount of the reward paid for his apprehension and delivery, liquidate his indebtedness to the United States on the date of his trial, and provide himself with a complete outfit of uniform clothing, he would be placed on probation.
Defeo was restored to duty and served until January 20, 1918, when he again deserted. He was delivered to naval jurisdiction on February 24, 1918; was tried
by general court martial, found guilty of absence from station and duty after leave had expired, was sentenced to be confined for a period of 18 months, to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy, and to suffer all other accessories of his sentence. The sentence was approved on May 7, 1918. On November 6, 1918, the Navy Department remitted the unexecuted portion of Defeo's sentence, subject to his conduct for a period of 1 year, otherwise at the discretion of his commanding officer, he was to be reconfined to serve out the unexecuted portion of his sentence as originally approved. On November 20, 1918, he was restored to duty on probation for a period of 1 year.
The Navy Department's letter to your committee dated February 26, 1936, reporting upon the bill H. R. 10574, Seventy-fourth Congress, for the relief of John Joseph Defeo, contains, on page 2 thereof, the following statement:
"Defeo absented himself without leave from August 12, 1919, to October 3, 1919, and was ordered to be returned to the naval prison, Portsmouth, N. H., to serve the unexecuted portion of his sentence. He was dishonorably discharged from the naval service at Portsmouth, N. H., on April 5, 1920."
On the contrary, it appears that Defeo was discharged with an ordinary discharge on August 11, 1919, at Hingham, Mass. The entry showing this ordinary discharge was later canceled on a date unknown to the Navy Department by the drawing of a line through the entry and a further entry was made showing his dishonorable discharge at Portsmouth, N. H., on April 5, 1920.
Defeo visited the Navy Department and definitely stated that he had in fact been discharged from the Navy on August 11, 1919, and was actually handed his discharge certificate, which certificate was later lost by him. Based on Defeo's statement the Navy Department requested the General Accounting Office to furnish a photostatic copy of the pay receipt actually signed by Defeo on August 11, 1919, if the records of the Accounting Office showed that Defeo had in fact been "paid off" on that date. The Navy Department has received a photostatic copy of the pay receipt dated August 11, 1919, signed by Defeo and showing that he was paid the sum of $78.59 under his pay No. 45735.
It appears that Defeo while undergoing confinement at Portsmouth, N. H., was placed on probation and sent to Hingham, Mass. While there on probation he asked to be released without serving the full period of probation and such request was granted by the Navy Department and he was given an ordinary discharge as above stated. He then ceased to be connected with the Navy in any way. Some time later he called at the naval ammunition depot, Hingham, Mass., with a view to securing a civilian position: He was then accused of being a deserter, arrested, and sent to the naval prison, Portsmouth, N. H., where he was compelled to complete the unexpired portion of the original period of confinement which remained at the time he was placed on probation and sent to Hingham, Mass. After finishing this period of confinement he was dishonorably discharged from the naval service at Portsmouth, N. H., on April 5, 1920.
Inasmuch as it appears that Defeo was in fact given an ordinary discharge on August 11, 1919, and that he was actually paid the sum due him on that date (as evidenced by the signed pay receipt and his definite and positive statement that he was handed his ordinary discharge certificate on the same date), and inasmuch as the Navy Department has no official records to refute Defeo's statement that he was actually given a discharge certificate, the Navy Department interposes no objection to enactment of the bill H. R. 2337.
The bill, H. R. 2337, if enacted into law, would result in no cost to the Navy; however, it is probable that a charge under the Veterans' Administration would be involved now or in the future.
Attention is invited to the fact that the date given in the bill H. R. 2337 as April 2, 1920, should be changed to April 5, 1920.
The Navy Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this report.
The CLERK. Now, Mr. Chairman, on that bill for the relief of Joseph Defeo, our calendar shows that this bill was introduced in the Seventy-second, Seventy-fourth, and Seventy-fifth Congresses, and in the Seventy-fifth Congress the Department offered no objection. It was referred to a subcommittee, and it seems that it came up in the Seventy-fifth Congress. There was a favorable report to this committee from the subcommittee.
Mr. BRADLEY. Gentlemen, it appears that this man is the victim of circumstances, that he actually was discharged, that he had an order of discharge at the time he applied for this civil-service position referred to. Through somebody's zealousness he was taken into custody as a deserter, probably due to the previous episodes in his record, but it appears that he was actually discharged at the time he applied for this position.
Captain, do you have anything to say regarding the report, or anything to supplement it?
Captain HEDERMAN. No, sir.
Mr. HEIDINGER. Do you feel that this bill ought to be enacted, Captain?
Captain HEDERMAN. The chairman has said that this man was the victim of circumstances. I think that the Navy was the victim of circumstances due to inefficient administration somewhere.
Mr. BRADLEY. Somebody gave him a discharge through channels that were not absolutely official, but, nevertheless, he had an official discharge, and he was not apprehended until he applied for a Government position. Then somebody took him into custody for not having served the balance of his sentence, which was previously imposed, and the records of the Navy showed that he was actually paid off, and he was not a deserter officially.
Mr. GRANT. Not the second time, but he was the first time. He was not going to be foolish enough to go back there to apply for civilian employment.
Mr. BRADLEY. When he has a discharge he is discharged. If there is something wrong in the way of inefficient administration that is something we are to condemn the Navy for.
Captain HEDERMAN. Yes, sir; that is the way I look at it.
Mr. BRADLEY. He was a free agent, and he was discharged, is that not so?
Captain HEDERMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. BRADLEY. He was a free agent; he was discharged. I feel it is unfair to hold this against a man throughout his life, and they made him go back and serve his sentence anyhow.
Mr. GRANT. I move that we favorably report the bill, Mr. Chairman. Mr. BRADLEY. It is moved that we report the bill with the amendment correcting the date as suggested by the Department. (The motion to report the bill favorably was adopted.)
(Thereupon the committee proceeded to the consideration of other business.)
HEARING ON H. R. 634, TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
The committee met at 11 a. m., Hon. Michael J. Bradley (chairman) presiding.
Mr. BRADLEY. We will now take up H. R. 634.
(The bill referred to is as follows:)
[H. R. 634, 78th Cong., 1st sess.]
A BILL To provide for the advancement of Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, Construction Corps, United States Navy, Retired, to the rank of vice admiral
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to advance Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, Construction Corps, United States Navy, Retired, to naval constructor with the rank of vice admiral on the retired list.
Mr. BRADLEY. Mr. Clerk, will you read the report?
TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF REAR ADMIRAL EMORY S. LAND, CONSTRUCTION CORPS, UNITED STATES NAVY, RETIRED, TO THE RANK OF VICE ADMIRAL (H. R. 634). MR. VINSON
Hon. SAM RAYBURN,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, January 5, 1943.
MY DEAR MR. SPEAKER: There is transmitted herewith a draft of a proposed bill to provide for the advancement of Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, Construction Corps, United States Navy, retired, to the rank of vice admiral.
The purpose of the proposed legislation is as stated in its title.
Rear Admiral Emory S. Land was, on April 1, 1937, upon his own request, placed on the retired list of the Navy with the rank of rear admiral, which rank he held at that time as Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair of the Navy Department. Admiral Land, on April 16, 1937, accepted an appointment by the President as a member of the Maritime Commission and has served continuously since that time on such Commission, having been appointed chairman thereof on February 18, 1938. He is, in addition, Administrator of the War Shipping Administration.
The importance of the merchant marine as an auxiliary of the Navy has always been recognized. The vital part, however, that it plays in the defense of the country has never been more forcefully demonstrated than in the present war. Admiral Land's outstanding services as a member, and later Chairman, of the Maritime Commission have been of inestimable value to the country as a whole (1317)