The Mystery of the Cape Johnson Liquor heist

 From the Oral Interview of Bob Conner with Floyd Cox of the Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas:

 Mr. Cox: You mentioned a while ago before we started recording an incident that happened at Green Island about a cubicle fall of booze. Would you tell that story again.

Mr. Conner: Well, the word came to us down in the Supply Dump that we needed one of  the standard cubes, which was 3x3x3. We didn’t know what for. Sent it down to the officers’ country. I later saw this truck go by with this case on it, with a driver and an officer with sidearms.  I recognized that thing as being the one that they had asked us to send down there. Word came about that it was carrying the officers’ liquor. I don’t know where the stuff went. I just knew that it went by and was headed down some place. Anyway, I knew it was safe because the officer had a gun. But later that day, when we all boarded the troop ship there was the word “General Quarters for a bag inspection.” It turned out that the bag inspection was for finding the booze that had disappeared from that crate.

Mr. Cox:    None of your fellows owned up to taking it?

Mr. Conner: Nobody knows what happened to it. To this day, nobody knows what happened to that booze. But there was a lot of it being used that night on board the ship. But before that part started, our Executive Officer went to the Captain of the ship to have a bag inspection, which meant that all of the troops onboard would have to take everything out of their sea-bags and put it down in the position that it was supposed to be for inspection of the bag in the proper place and everything, and the officers would come through and they would check to see if everything was in order. The ship’s Captain said, “Yes, I can call a bag inspection, but keep in mind the Navy regulations say that any alcohol on board a ship has to be placed in the hands of the ship’s Doctor.” Well, that killed the whole thing for the officers, so they said, “forget it.” So there was no bag inspection, but there was a happy time on board the ship.

With Commander L.C. Farley aboard the Cape Johnson 

10/22/44:*  The theft of the officers’ booze* . . . The crate, or perhaps wooden box would be a better description, left Officers’ Country on a large truck with a driver and an officer with side arms.  We were traveling with two ships, one for troops and the other one with all our equipment.  The box was to go on our ship, I guess so it could be better watched.  If anybody knows how the heist was made, it has always been a secret.  Our chief honcho went to the ship’s skipper to request a bag inspection.  Our officer was told that yes, there could be an inspection, but by Naval regulations all liquor that was found would have to be placed in the custody of the ship’s doctor.  That ended it and it was a great night.

An anonymous source at a recent reunion of the 93rd shed some more light on the story.  There was an unusual coordination failure as the box was being loaded onto the Cape Johnson. The superbly constructed container began to come apart and alert Seabees raced to the spot to rescue the fragile contents.  They vanished as suddenly as they appeared.  The patrol was no doubt reluctant to commit a Be-icide not knowing if the rescued bottles would be restored.

David Freiderich reports a similar incident aboard the Cassiopeia in which - in a rare turnaround - Seabee Stevedors were unfairly accused of diverting Admiral Halsey's favorite.