05 July 2008

Latest Research Project II

The Marine in question was seemingly a well respected aviator, he was sent to France ahead of all Marine aviation units to scout out locations for the squadrons. Somewhere along the way, he ended up in a British aircraft, shot down 5 enemy planes, crash landed behind enemy lines, captured a German soldier, saved a French colonial soldier and made it back to friendly lines---all unscathed.

This is the bone of contention. The story was picked up by Frazier Hunt of the Chicago Tribune and made headlines back in the states. There was an unwritten regulation that stated no publicity was to be had. The Lieutenant was put in for commendations and as the fervor was building the British began an informal investigation as to the exact exploits. Before too long, the Lieutenant found himself charged with falsehood. Court-martialed for spreading lies and garnering publicity falsely.

The trial gained more headlines in the press than the exploits. Several 'giants-to-be' of the Corps were called to testify, and if the local press was to be believed, the Lieutenant was going to be found not guilty. However, that was not to be. The young Lieutenant was tried, convicted and dismissed from the Marine Corps in 1919.

All this was gained from the biographical file on the Lieutenant. However, there had to be more information. A random two line entry buried in a 1921 newspaper stated that the Lieutenant (by then a private citizen) had testified before a Senate subcommittee regarding his court martial. Further research yielded that the Lieutenant's hearings lasted into 1925!!

The materials of the History Division exhausted, the next steps were mandatory if the truth was to be discovered. What did his service record indicate? Does his court martial records still exist with the Navy JAG? What about the Senate Subcommittee hearings? The Commandant of the Marine Corps and Secretary of Navy were both involved at various stages--what do their records indicate?

Soon --- as records are consulted and copies are received, the truth will be revealed.


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