"You owe us for that lost M14"

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Slater, Jul 17, 2021.

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  1. Slater

    Slater Member

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    I'm reading "The U.S. M14 Rifle: The Last Steel Warrior" (2nd Edition), which is an informative treatment of this rifle. On page 119 is a picture with this caption:

    "February 14, 1968. 24 year old Ernest J. Wagner of Racine, Wisconsin with a letter from the government, stating that he owes $71.20 for an M14 rifle he lost during his tour in Vietnam. According to Wagner, he placed his weapon on a helicopter but did not board the aircraft. When the helicopter returned, his M14 was gone. An investigating officer charged him with negligence. He was given 30 days to pay or face legal action. Mr. Wagner served a year in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division and was honorably discharged. This story appeared in every major newspaper in the US."

    I've been researching to try to find out what happened with this claim, but haven't had any luck. My guess would be that all the adverse publicity caused the Army to drop the matter, but who knows?

    According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, $71.20 in 1968 would be $567.29 today.
     
  2. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    That would not be my guess.

    In another well-publicized event, a soldier on a long flight from CONUS fell asleep upon arrival at Cam Rahn Bay. He woke to find his M-14 gone. He had to pay for it.

    the penalty was assessed by the base commander, who was a friend of mine. We discussed it later.
     
  3. armabill

    armabill Member

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    I'd give them $600 for it now!
     
  4. wbm

    wbm Member

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    LOL! I guess you would.
     
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  5. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    When I was in the national guard in the late 80's, an incident involving the theft of a 1911 (by a civilian worker at a national guard armory) caused a member of the unit to be held financially responsible for the pistol, which was one of several the thief COULD have stolen at the time- but ended up being the one that actually was stolen, with the unit member in question being deemed responsible due to the fact he had signed for it (good old 2062). I believe the sum it was valued at was 40-something dollars. The thief was identified as a suspect, but the investigation never determined where it was, and resulted in the statement of charges for the unit member. Some time later, the worker was arrested during some crime in possession of that pistol. Since it wasn't fired during the crime, it was eventually returned to the unit. AFAIK, the Soldier who was charged got neither his money back nor the pistol that he paid for.
    Regarding certain incidents in the military and public reactions, a Special Forces NCO named SFC Charles Martland, while deployed to afg in 2011, got into a physical confrontation with a senior local security forces member regarding very inappropriate liberties he had taken with a child. SFC Martland gave the officer a "little beatdown" and physically removed him from the base. As a result of this, senior US Army leadership initiated charges against SFC Martland that were to result in his forceful removal from the US Army, with SFC Martland being placed under a gag order regarding the incident. However, due to the intervention of Duncan Hunter (R, Ca) and public awareness brought to the incident, the decision was reversed, and it was determined that what SFC Martland did, for the reasons he did it, wasn't such a bad thing, and that the US Army and Special Forces Regiment was better off with SFC Martland in the ranks than with him gone.
     
  6. Slater

    Slater Member

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    Regarding Mr. Wagner's 1968 case, all I've found out is that a Congressman took his side on the matter.
     
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  7. Mars5l

    Mars5l Member

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    Im assuming its only a matter of issue if it's not during an active engagement?
     
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  8. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    You would have to do a year in Nam first.
     
  9. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator In Memoriam

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    I wss once told," the Army is never wrong, but sometimes it Is a little short of being right "

    That said, I saw, "A little short on being right" way too often!
    Hence my disdain for Academy graduates.
     
  10. Phaedrus/69

    Phaedrus/69 Member

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    A year in Nam now circa 2021 would be a lot more pleasant than it was in 1968!
     
  11. tark

    tark Member

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    You mean ring knockers?
     
  12. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator In Memoriam

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    ^ yep!
     
  13. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Three newly minted 2nd Lts are sharing a train compartment just after WW2. One is ROTC, another is OCS, and the 3rd is an Academy grad. A BG comes on board, and seats himself in the same compartment, across from the three butter bars. After Military pleasantries are exchanged, the General peruses some paperwork, and the Lts converse with each other.

    After about 15 minutes the Flag officer looks at the young man on the left, and says "Son, you are an ROTC officer, aren't you?" The young Lt. responds "Yes sir, how did you know?" "Your manner of conversation shows that you were educated in one of our finest Universities." "Thank you, sir!"

    After another short interval, the General addresses the one in the middle: "You are an OCS officer, correct?" "Yes sir, how did you know?" "Your bearing and maturity show that you have served for some time as an NCO." "Thank you, sir!"

    Another hour passes, and the West Pointer is getting antsy. Finally he chirps up: "Sir, what about me, what about me?" "Oh you, you are an Academy grad." "Yes sir! Do you know that because I stand head and shoulders above my peers?" "No, you idiot, I saw your class ring while you were picking your nose."
     
  14. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    When my Grandfather's Army Engineer unit was boarding their transport for Okinawa, it took quite awhile for the large number of GIs to find their assigned berthing. Grandad's unit was forced to stand by the topside railing, in the raw sun, for some time while waiting their turn to go below.

    Most of them took off their packs and leaned them against the superstructure, but one unlucky PFC happened to be standing across from an open hatch, so he set his gear against the hatch door. As luck would have it, a Navy LT happened by at that moment and told him he would have to move his stuff against the railing so it didnt block to hatch, and the man obligingly did as he was told.

    Minutes later, an Army LT spotted the pack against the railing and stormed over to loudly instruct the fella to move his gear. When the hapless enlisted man protested that a Navy Officer had told him where to set his ruck, the Army officer replied that he didnt care what some Navy puke said-

    "Get the US Army's property away from that rail. If it falls in the drink, Im sending you the bill, Private."

    Belatedly, the enlisted man moved his pack away from the rail, and back against the open hatch door. Within minutes, the same Naval Officer appeared and screamed at the poor shmuck because he was blocking access to the hatch again.

    "But, Sir, my Lieutenant told me to put it there....."

    "I don't care what he said, this is a US Navy ship and I'm telling you to get your s*** out of this hatchway!" Once again, the pack was moved back against the rail.

    The exasperated PFC turned to my Grandfather and said, "I swear to God, if they give me crap about where to put this stuff again, Im throwing it overboard." Most of the nearby men thought the whole thing hilarious and chuckled at that.

    Sure enough, as soon as the Navy officer was out of sight, the Army LT rounded the corner and began to dress down the PFC for disobeying orders-

    At which point, the Private, much to the horror of his fellows, grabbed his ruck and threw it in the Pacific Ocean.

    Grandpa said they never saw the PFC offender again, but they heard he spent the rest of the voyage in the brig on bread and water rations, and was eventually court-martialled.

    Ironically, the man was locked up for the invasion landing- which may have saved his life.

    Grandad didnt know if they ever actually sent him a bill......
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2021
  15. WheelGunMan

    WheelGunMan Member

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    @NIGHTLORD40K great story. I close my eyes and can see that happening!
     
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  16. Steve762us

    Steve762us Member

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    There were two different considerations at play there; one was the legal investigation of theft, the other,
    relief of accountability for the pistol (taking it off the property books). Neither process has anything to do with
    the other.

    The property accountability investigation into the loss/theft found the GI "pecuniarily liable" for the loss.

    That means "GI did XYZ", and that XYZ was the proximate cause for the loss/theft, i.e. if Snuffy had not done XYZ, the loss/theft would not have happened.
    So they stuck him with the depreciated (if 'they' were being nice ;)) value for the item---though forty bucks sounds pretty high for depreciated value, since
    the pistol was probably forty or fifty years old.

    The investigation could have found him liable, but not pecuniarily liable, in which case he wouldn't have been charged anything (monetarily). At any rate,
    the completed investigation would have been sent up the log chain, with a request to remove that pistol from the property books, and everybody would
    breathe a sigh of relief.

    Uncle Sam has a long memory for debts. The Army, in my day, would give you a "travel pay" at discharge, based on where you lived when you entered
    the service--regardless of where you planned to live. I came in on the East Coast, and got out on the West Coast, and received a hefty "advanced travel
    pay". I stayed right where I'd been, on active duty. A couple of years later, Defense Finance Accounting Service sent me letter, saying I owed them my
    advanced travel pay. I was offered the option to send payment, or they'd take it out of my income tax return. o_O I sent them a check, something over
    $300.

    The kicker to that was a year later, they sent an automated printout saying I still owed them the payment--and it showed an interest charge of
    $966 THOUSAND dollars. They did eventually admit it was an error, and that my payment had been received.

    Edit: I'd bet the GI on the hook for the M14 DID end up paying for it. The 1911 remained
    government property, so the GI involved with that, couldn't claim it for himself. He likely
    could have filed some paperwork to get the SOC collection reversed, when the pistol was
    identified as recovered to Army control.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021
  17. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    See: https://books.google.com/books?id=DK0F88we97QC&pg=PA4213&lpg=PA4213&dq=Ernest+J.+Wagner+army+rifle&source=bl&ots=Fio4lU3PYZ&sig=ACfU3U3Ak0e2hSWWSaJqdQjKJXW4XYC2kg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwirk_rAw-vxAhUeMlkFHWAGDAAQ6AEwBHoECBcQAw#v=onepage&q=Ernest J. Wagner army rifle&f=false

    It made the Congressional Record.
    :neener:
     
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  18. 1942bull
    • Contributing Member

    1942bull Contributing Member

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    The you owe us letter is just the wheels of military red tape spinning. I left the acorns after 10 years with my Ka-Bar in my duffel bag. Payment was demanded six years later. They did not get paid, but I still have the knife. I have it in a box along with my Purple Heart
     
  19. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Heard that one as Colleges, Yale, Berkley, and Texas A&M, respectively years ago, from an Aggie, no less.
     
  20. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    government is a parasite (right or wrong, its reality) I don't know what happened here, but without the press, people pay.
    I think the best example here is Joe Lewis.
    https://www.mackinac.org/V1997-22
     
  21. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    for a parody of the stupidity of the Army as a whole, in an allegory of this type of thing, see if you can fine a M*A*S*H* episode called "that darn kid" https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0638419/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl The government will throw money at anything and ask no questions, but for those who can't afford a lawyer, they'll chase you for 10c. Remember the Waco siege was over $200.
     
  22. klausman
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    klausman Member

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    You all seem to be in the know about such things, so I have a question for you. There are all those weapons out there having been disposed of by the military, but still have the "Property of U S Army" stamped on them. How do you know that they were not improperly "liberated"? A friend of mine has a 1911 that was issued to his father (a pilot) during WW2. Is the father likely to have just kept it, or did he buy it when the war was over? (I cannot imagine that he would have stolen it.) Thanks
     
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  23. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    I would have just asked both of those officers to get together and make up my mind for me.
     
  24. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    I don't know mow many small arms were lost in Viet Nam other than a lot! I do remember a poor Staff Sergeant going from Supply room after Supply room in a base camp looking for fourteen missing M-14's! The switch from M-14 to M-16 had taken place long ago and he unfortunately signed the weapons sheet without doing an on sight inventory. I don't know what happened but I bet a lot of inventories were cobbled up to hide the losses. I know you could buy weapons on the black market as an MP friend said they were busting people all the time with ,38's, ,45's, M-14's, and M-16's.
     
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  25. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

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    Ha! Ha! Ha! That's funny.
     
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