Part VI

Captain's mast

One Saturday morning at the Royce Hall assembly, after the V-12 unit had been dismissed, the NROTC unit received a lecture from our Executive Officer, Commander Joseph Chadwick, on the subject of the exemplary discipline expected of the NROTC, who were supposed to set an example for the V-12 unit, and others. After Commander Chadwick's address, there was a delay in dismissing the NROTC unit. It was nearly 11 o'clock, and several cadets had planned to run down to the Village, literally, to get a haircut before inspection. One cadet, Burt Avedon, was especially anxious to get a haircut, since he had something very special planned for the weekend and didn't want to risk being restricted to the barracks. Avedon asked his squad leader if he could be dismissed early so he could get a quick haircut, explaining his special situation. His squad leader ref used. Avedon left anyway, with his squad leader saying to him,

"You're on report, Avedon!"

Avedon had sat in the row behind me, so I had heard the whole conversation. I was so incensed by the squad leader's action that I turned around and said to him,

“If you had one more brain, you 'd be an a-- h---.''

He immediately responded,

''Munzig, you ' re on report too."

I didn't think much more about this, until after inspection, when Avedon's name and mine were included in the announcement of names to report immediately to the Executive Officer who, unfortunately, was the same person who had just given the lecture about exemplary performance being expected of NROTC cadets. The timing couldn't have been worse.

Commander Joseph H. Chadwick, USN, our Executive Officer, was a well-liked officer. He sported a little mustache, and when the group photographs were taken of the UCLA NROTC staff officers, his cap was the only one that had a rakish angle to it - all others were perfectly horizontal. He was called "Indian Joe'' by the NROTC cadets, though not to his f ace of course. I don 't recall why we called him that , but it was not meant in a derrogatory way. It may just have been our way of trying to identify with him, as one of the ' good guys.' (After the war, Commander Chadwick started a private school, the Chadwick School, in Palos Verdes Estates, hard by Redondo Beach.) I think that if our offenses had occurred more than five minutes after his admonition to us to act like real officer material: that he might not have taken such strong action as he did.

When we reported to him, he was livid. He had only heard the squad leader's side, but we didn't have much to say in our defense, except that, in our opinion, the offenses had not been that great. In the Navy, the Executive Officer handles all matters of discipline. Only in extreme cases does the 'Exec.' pass the charges along to the 'Skipper' for convening of a Captain's mast. But that’s what we both got. A Captain's 'mast ' is similar to a court trial, where the Captain acts as tub Judge, and his staff acts as the court’s officers. The name comes from sailing days, when the Captain traditionally disciplined his men in front of the mast. 'There goes our Naval career, we both thought, not without precedent. No one to date had ever survived a Captain’s mast under Captain Barker - they had all gone to boot camp. We were ordered to be confined to our barracks until the following Saturday, when we were to appear at 10 o'clock in Capt. Barker's office.

At the appointed time, the participants were waiting in adjacent offices to attend the mast. Avedon's squad leader was sitting in one office, alone, reading a thick volume of Plato. Avedon and I were nervously waiting, along with Chief Samuel Landy, who was there with us, apparently to keep us from running away - a thought that had briefly crossed our minds. Commander Chadwick and Commander Philips V. Warren, USN (Retired), U.S. Naval Academy class of '17, the next in command, were waiting in their offices for Captain Barker to complete signing some correspondence, and to convene the mast.

Captain Barker was finally ready, and the group entered his office. Avedon and I stood directly in front of Captain Barker, who remained seated at his desk. Chief Landy stood to our immediate left, and a little to our rear, effectively blocking our retreat, I noticed. Commanders Chadwick and Warren stood to our right, and to Captain Barker's left, facing both Captain Barker and the defendants, Avedon and Munzig. Avedon's squad leader was still reading Plato, awaiting his call as a prosecution witness. Captain Barker announced that the Captain's mast was now convened, in accordance with Article umpty ump of U.S. Navy Regulations. He then asked us our names, which we told him. He then said,

"What are the charges against these men?"

Commander Warren described Avedon's leaving his post without permission from his direct superior.

"What about the other man?", Barker asked next, looking at me.

"Using obscene and derrogatory language to a superior petty officer in the line of duty," Commander Warren replied. Captain Barker frowned, turned and looked at me, and asked,

"What did you say to him?"

"I called him an 'anus,' sir," I replied.

Captain Barker then asked,

"Why?"

I then described the events leading up to the 'name calling.' Captain Barker thought for a moment, and then went on to explain that these were extremely serious charges, especially coming immediately after his Executive Officer's talk to all of about setting good examples. When he finished, he asked us if we had anything else to say. While Avedon was saying "No sir," I was trying to decide if I should say something about how much I wanted to be a Naval officer, but decided this would sound too much like begging so also replied, 
“No sir.”

We were then dismissed, and Chief Landy accompanied us back to our 'waiting' room.

Next - Part VII