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RAYMOND NELSON HICKMAN
FEBRUARY 16, 1932.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and
ordered to be printed
Mr. COYLE, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, submitted the
[To accompany H. R. 5999)
The Committee on Naval Affairs of the House of Representatives, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 5999) for the relief of Raymond Nelson Hickman, report favorably thereon and without amendment recommend that the bill do pass.
An identical bill passed the House in the Seventieth Congress and was again reported to the House in the Seventy-first Congress.
At an early age, Raymond Nelson Hickman had a desire to go to the United States Naval Academy and was appointed, but, conforming to his father's wishes, he took his degree in engineering, after attending business college, supporting himself meanwhile.
Mr. Hickman followed his profession as an engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad and for three and a half years he served on the construction of the Panama Canal as draftsman, inspector, and finally general foreman on construction of fortifications, resigning late in 1914.
Brig. Gen. R. E. Wood, formerly chief quartermaster of the Panama Canal, wrote the following as a testimonial when Mr. Hickman entered the Navy:
I knew Mr. R. N. Hickman during his period of service on the Panama Canal. His record there was excellent, his honesty and integrity are above reproach. Personally and socially he is a man of fine character. I believe his qualifications are such that he would make an excellent officer of the Navy.
Capt. George W. Goethals, Corps of Engineers, United States Army, Mr. Hickman's immediate superior in Panama, said of Mr. Hickman:
This is to certify that I have known for over three years, Mr. R. N. Hickman, who is making application for position of assistant paymaster, United States Navy.
I take pleasure in recommending him as being qualified professionally and morally in every way for the position which he seeks, and will be glad to furnish any further specific information which may be required in connection with the aforesaid's application for the position.
The statement covering Mr. Hickman's entire record on the Panama Canal, signed by Gen. George W. Goethals, concludes with:
His general workmanship and conduct were very good.
In view of the opinion given by the board of medical survey of the Navy regarding predisposition, it is pertinent to state that Mr. Hickman's health record in Panama was perfect, with exception of the removal of tonsils. Although exposed to fever in duties which took him 15 miles up the Chagres River, he did not at any time contract fever.
It will be admitted that conditions in the Tropics might be expected to bring out any physical as well as any mental or nervous weakness, if such predisposition as the board of medical survey qualified, had existed. Very few who were employed in such duties as Mr. Hickman performed on the Panama Canal escaped malaria fever. Mr. Hickman had no illness there or later.
Mr. Hickman applied to take the examination for the Pay Corps of the Navy while in contact with Commander Rood in Panama in 1913, but no examinations were opened to civilians until November, 1915. Mr. Hickman had, upon resigning his position in Panama, returned to Washington and was there employed by the Bureau of Standards in scientific work, when examined and commissioned in the Navy He had at the same time been active in the National Guard of the District of Columbia, being an expert rifleman and a member of the District of Columbia team in the national rifle matches in 1915. He recruited Troop A, the first cavalry organized in the District National Guard, and commanded this when commissioned in the Navy.
Brig. Gen. J. C. Castner, then of the General Staff of the Army, wrote Mr. Hickman several letters just after he entered the Navy, from which is quoted: Your troop has indeed done itself proud and is the best organization we have. I surely appreciate the good work you have done.
Thank, ing you for your great and good work,
The examination given civilians for commission in the Pay Corps of the Navy in November, 1915, was exceptionally rigid, both as to physical and mental examination. Because of some difference of opinion between officers of the Pay Corps and the Secretary of the Navy, regarding commissioning of enlisted men, the board of officers provided a most difficult test, their objective being to make the standards comparable to those for line officers of the Navy. By rigid physical examination, many applicants were eliminated. On the day of Mr. Hickman's physical examination he was the eleventh man to be examined and the first one to be passed by Surgeons Stepp and Bloedorn. The finding of the medical officers is recorded as follows: “Each member of the board then made a careful physical examination of the candidate and found no physical disqualifications existing.” Mr. Flickman's orders
indorsed-"Reported. Examined and found physically qualified.” Mr. Hickman's statement as to physical qualifications was also accepted by the board.
Included in the record, among other recommendations, is a letter from Rear Admiral Walter McLean, reading as follows:
Mr. R. N. Hickman informs me that he is authorized to appear before the board for examination on December 8, 1915. My acquaintance and association with Mr. Hickman warrants that I unreservedly commend him to the favorable consideration of the board. Mr. Hickman is a gentleman of marked refinement and the highest character, and his attainments are more than usually varied.
I consider that Mr. Hickman is in all respects the very kind of a young man it is desirable to get into our service, and I am convinced that he will prove a valuable addition to the Pay Corps.
Another officer of the Navy, with whom Mr. Hickman had quarters while in Panama, Commander F. H. Cooke, Corps of Civil Engineers, writes:
I am in receipt of your letter advising that you contemplate taking examination for appointment as assistant paymaster in the Navy, and that the examining board requires testimonials as to character and personality.
I would be very glad to see you in the Navy, for I believe that you would not only be an efficient and painstaking member of the Pay Corps, but that your agreeable manner and address would make you a desirable addition to any social function aboard ship or ashore.
With best wishes for your success, etc.
The mental examinations of the examining board, to which 99 candidates were admitted, covered a period of 10 days of 8 hours each. Mr. Hickman covered the examinations, writing 156 pages, in 53 hours, as shown by the record. He was rated sixth on the list of 12 successful candidates who were commissioned. Two graduates of the United States Naval Academy stood seventh and ninth on the list.
It appears, therefore, that Mr. Hickman's history, as well as the rigid physical and mental examination to which he was subjected, point to unquestionable evidence that predisposition to nervous instability or psychosis, manic, depressive or any other physical or mental weakness did not exist prior to his entering the Navy.
His record on the Panama Canal and letters from officers of the Army and the Navy who knew him and worked with him intimately, are sufficient to refute the opinion of "predisposition" by medical officers of the Navy. A most searching examination fails to reveal anything in this man's life or in the lives of his antecedents from which such conclusion can logically be drawn. So much for the history of Mr. Hickman before he entered the Navy.
Upon entering the service, Mr. Hickman's record at the pay officers' school in Washington was such as to prompt Admiral McGowan, Paymaster General of the Navy, to express his confidence in Mr. Hickman to their mutual friends. Mr. Hickman requested, as is customary with young officers entering the Pay Corps, duty on a small ship, where he would learn practical work and become proficient. He was ordered to the U. S. S. Scorpion at Constantinople in May, 1916.
About that time the supply officer of the fourth division of submarines, of which the Tallahassee was the tender, was, upon inspection by the force paymaster, discovered short in his accounts $800. Assistant Paymaster Hickman was dispatched from Washington to take over the supply department from a board of officers, the supply officer and his clerk having been placed under arrest.
The results of court of inquiry and courts-martial that followed gave evidence that the lack of enlisted personnel in the supply department and the conditions under which Paymaster Jackson and Chief Pay Clerk Crapp (who were court-martialed) were working were contributory to the causes of their difficulties.
Paymaster Jackson, in testimony to the board which retired Mr. Hickman, made statements which deserve consideration because of his knowledge of the work Mr. Hickman was obliged to undertake in his first duty in the Navy. In reply to interrogatories Paymaster Jackson stated:
In performance of the duties of supply officer of fourth division submarine force, you impressed me as thoroughly conscientious, and started the work of reorganizing the supply department of the Tallahassee in a very efficient and painstaking manner. I was most favorably impressed by your manner of performing your duties as well as by your personality when off duty.
As to temperamental qualities, Paymaster Jackson stated:
A well-developed sense of humor, a faculty for appreciating and enjoying recreation when off duty; when on duty, capable of concentration of thought and energy on the work in hand; an attention to details as well as a grasp of the whole job.
In reply to the question “Was he performing duty more arduous than the average?”:
The duties of the supply officer at the time you reported were more arduous than the average supply officer performs for the following reasons: Storerooms were overcrowded; no engineering allowance lists and no blue prints of parts for four boats were available; much obsolete material on board; requests made by me six months prior to my being relieved but no action obtained. The difficulties would have been overcome if the supply department had been furnished sufficient office and storeroom force. I now have (on U. S. S. Tonopah, same kind of ship) 2 chief yeoman, 1 yeoman, second class, 3 yeomen, third class; 3 storekeepers, while on the Tallahassee at the time in question, the office and store-room force was 1 chief yeoman, 1 yeoman, first class; 1 yeoman, second class, 1 storekeeper.
The committee finds that in one department of the Supply Corps, Mr. Hickman had only four men to do work done by nine men on a similar vessel. Having no pay clerk, Mr. Hickman was obliged to do pay-office work himself, and supervise commissary department and general storekeeping.
The commanding officer of that vessel expressed the opinion at once that Mr. Hickman had not had enough experience to handle the difficult job in the supply department of his ship. It is not irrelevant to note that the commanding officer had never before commanded a ship on which a supply officer was carried and it is therefore possible that he was not familiar with the problems of a supply officer; also before going to that command the commanding officer had been under treatment for about five months for neurasthenia.
Being ordered to act as counsel for the pay clerk at the court of inquiry that convened, Mr. Hickman had the delicate job, as a young paymaster just entering the service, of cross-examining his commanding officer on the witness stand.
The depositions taken by the board that retired Mr. Hickman show that his duties were most arduous and that "he grasped the work more quickly than the average new supply officer just entering the Navy." He had five ships to account for to the Treasury and the Navy Departments, and, although he was not assisted by a Pay Clerk, Mr. Hickman's accounts required no reconciliation during his first quarter period at sea. This is most unusual.
His quarterly fitness reports were high, and his commanding officer qualified him as “calm, even tempered, forceful, active, extremely bold, and fairly painstaking." His experience on the Panama Canal, rising to a responsible position as general foreman, had, perhaps, given him a confidence which was hardly expected in a paymaster with the rank of ensign. The record shows that he was overzealous in the performance of his duty. The deposition of a rear admiral commanding a navy yard states, “Hickman's initiative and discretion in overcoming obstacles impressed me favorably; he was notably even tempered."
The commanding officer of the Tallahassee persisted in his opinion that Paymaster Hickman was not experienced enough to fill the position of supply officer and instructed the paymaster to request detachment. This Mr. Hickman was reluctant to do. He hoped to complete the work of reorganizing the supply department. Shortly after the request for detachment, an aide to Pay master General McGowan called on Mr. Hickman on board the ship, then in the navy yard. This was ostensibly a personal call, but later it was learned that Admiral McGowan had sent his aide to learn the situation. Mr. Hickman was not detached, although his commanding officer again ordered him to request detachment about a month later. Mr. Hickman was persistent in his requests to his commanding officer for adequate personnel, and for enforcement of regulations which only the commanding officer could effect.
The ship surgeon, being familiar with the situation and having observed the paymaster working at all hours, suggested that the loss of sleep would affect his health, even repeatedly urging the paymaster to go on the sick list and be sent to a hospital as a means of relief. Mr. Hickman did not wish this and continued his work. It was only upon the insistence of the ship surgeon that the paymaster requested five days' annual leave. This was approved by the commanding officer but later withdrawn because of a complete report of conditions which the paymaster made to the commanding officer. This was September 21, about four months after Mr. Hickman had joined the ship. He had had no leave whatever and had been off the ship very little, remaining on board for 18 days at one period, although the ship was usually in port at night.
In order to protect himself from culpability for irregularities it became necessary for Mr. Hickman to report conditions through his commanding officer to the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Admiral McGowan. The general inspector of the Pay Corps investigated conditions in the supply department of the ship. Soon thereafter Mr. Hickman learned from Washington, unofficially, that the report was favorable. About that time the ship surgeon again urged the paymaster to go to the hospital. It is important to note that Mr. Hickman had not been on the sick list nor incapacitated for duty. It was not until after Mr. Hickman had been detached that he consented to go to the hospital.
Not long after the investigation by the inspector general, the following orders were received by Mr. Hickman: Subject: Detached Tallahassee, to settle accounts.
1. Upon the reporting of Passed Assistant Paymaster Delos P. Heath you will regard yourself detached “from duty on board the Tallahassee and from such other duty as may have been assigned to you; will make the necessary transfers