CWO Don Henson USMC

There are those that thought it is was only flying in aviation units during wartime. There are other things that go on behind the scenes that do no get much notice until they are not there. I think all of us would agree that for morale purposes the three most important items would be a cold beer, mail call and pay call. There are other factors but these would vary with individual preference.

As a former Deputy Marine Paymaster attached to the Fourth Marine Air Base Defense Wing,(as it was known at that time) it was one of my assignments to return to British Samoa to pick up US currency that the natives had amassed during the stay of US troops on the island. Evidently the natives did not use the bank because the bills were apparently buried in the jungle from their looks when we arrived at the Bank of New Zealand for transferring the cash. The bank had told the natives that after a certain time the US money would be of no value so they had all of it available for transfer to our office. The larger bills we were able to get in our leather money bag but the one dollar bills were so bulky that we made a bundle of it like a batch of laundry. After flying back to our base we found that all of it was there that we had paid for. Mission accomplished,

Later in the campaign I was stationed with MAG-22 on Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll Marshall Islands where we were there to pay the troops. This may seem to be a simple task and it is under ordinary circumstances. Since there are no banks handy we had to rely on having the money paid out by us to be returned to us by the Post Office, Post Exchange and the Quartermaster. When for any reason a recently paid unit was transferred off the island, there goes our cash. This happened to us so we were looking for replacement funds.

Fortunately there is a way of transferring monies from one unit to another. Since I was the only Warrant Officer in the office available, they designated me as the CSO (Cash Scrounging Officer) with orders to proceed down the atoll to Kwajalein Island where the fleet supply ships were waiting to return to the states. There was a payday coming up soon and everyone wanted to be paid. I felt the need for haste to procure more funds. The only thing available for travel was the Air Group PBY with which they gave me a lift down to the airstrip on Kwajalein

After conferring with the Harbormaster to find out which ships were headed home I got a launch to the ones he designated. I negotiated with the Supply Officer aboard for a transfer of funds. After this was accomplished I had to repeat it two more times to acquire enough of the green to pay our units. That was a way getting more cash to meet our payroll. My short time assignment as CSO was considered a successful maneuver so the boys at the bar bought me a cold one to help my morale.

Don Henson CWO, USMC 1940-'46, '50-'53

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