Lore of the Corps

     This issue’s Lore of the Corps focuses on Lt. j.g. Edwin Goddard, who served for four years, and as Officer-in-Charge, Central Funding Agency, from 1945 to 1946.

     Ed Goddard was a young businessman in Brooklyn when he was commissioned as a Supply Corps Ensign in 1942.  He never dreamed the Navy would one day entrust him with transporting $26.5 million more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific.

     Goddard was born in Urbana, Ohio, in April 1919, and was graduated from Wittenberg College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941.  He was called up by Selective Service, but he was turned down for medical reasons.  New York University offered him a scholarship, and he earned a Master’s Degree in Retailing in 1942.  Young Goddard then went to work for Namm’s Department store in Brooklyn.

     When his medical condition cleared up, Ed Goddard was commissioned an Ensign in the Supply Corps, U.S. Naval Reserve, and ordered to active duty at the Boston Navy Yard.  He purchased a uniform at Macy’s Department Store and went off to war in November 1943.

     He completed the course at Navy Supply Corps School at Harvard University in April 1944 and was ordered to supply and disbursing duty with the Seabees at Eastport, Maine.  After a six-month tour, he was sent to the Norfolk Naval Base to await further orders.  Two weeks later, he received orders in October 1944 to temporary duty at the Naval Operating Base (NOB), Guam.  NOB had no billet for him, so he awaited a permanent assignment as the island struggled back to normal following liberation from Japanese occupation.  Ens. Goddard was given temporary custody of half a million dollars to facilitate reopening of the Bank of Guam.  He was never sure why the Navy chose him as custodian of so much money; he had only a year in service, and six months of that had been in school.

Today's Bank of Guam

Today’s Bank of Guam

     The Bank of Guam, nominally a private organization, was to be operated by the Navy for the convenience of the large number of U.S. military personnel on Guam.  Ens. Goddard took custody of the cash about two weeks before arrival of officials designated to operate the bank.  The young Supply Corps officer found that there were no suitable vault or safe facilities available, but the NOB disbursing officer provided a Quonset hut in which to store the money.  Ens. Goddard set up an armed guard and waited for the bank officers to arrive and “take the cash off my hands.”  When they did, Ens. Goddard was ordered as disbursing officer for a small boat unit where he served for several months and made Lieutenant, junior grade, in February 1945.

     In early 1945, the Central Funding Agency (CFA) for U.S. services in the Pacific was relocated from Hawaii to Guam.  Lt. j.g. Goddard was designated as officer-in-charge of CFA, reporting to the Supply Officer of Guam Naval Base, and obtained an old communications vault for storage of the funds.  The Federal Reserve decided that CFA should be the depository for the Bank of Guam rather than for the bank to remit its excel cash to the Federal Reserve Bank in Hawaii or San Francisco.  Suddenly, Lt. j.g. Goddard found himself designated as permanent rather than temporary custodian of large amounts of bank cash in addition to the CFA funds.

     Bank deposits exceeded $500,000 each month, but the Bank of Guam required only $200,000 to $300,000 for its monthly cash flow.  After using necessary operating capital for expenses and required reserves, the bank transferred substantial amounts of cash to Lt. j.g. Goddard weekly.  “Being good bankers, they turned over all their mutilated, mildewed and stained money to me to account for,” he remembers.  The amount of cash in Lt. j.g. Goddard’s Quonset hut grew rapidly, and at one time he had in his custody more than $35 million in U.S. currency and coin.

     In May 1946, Lt. j.g. Goddard was ordered to transfer the money then in his custody – less that needed to continue CFA funding – to the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco.  At that point, the cash on hand totaled more than $31 million.  Holding back $5 million for CFA purposes, Lt. j.g. Goddard supervised the loading of $26,526, 400 in 642 packages and pouches of currency and 146 cartons of coin for shipment.

USS General William Mitchell (AP 114)

USS General William Mitchell (AP 114)

     The young Supply Corps officer shouldered great responsibility as depository for the Bank of Guam, but that was a “piece of cake” compared to what was to follow.  The weight of the currency and coin to be shipped was nearly 11 tons, according to Lt. j.g. Goddard.  The first task in carrying out his orders for transfer of the treasure was to arrange transportation.  The NOB Supply Department trucks could not handle the sheer weight of so much money.  Ever the enterprising Supply Corps officer, he obtained a lowboy trailer from his Seabee friends for the transfer from the Quonset vault under guard to dockside for loading aboard the transport USS General William Mitchell (AP 114).

     Lt. j.g. Goddard secured use of cells in the ship’s brig on the upper deck for safe storage of the money during the voyage to San Francisco.  Once the cash hoard was in the brig, crew members welded iron straps across the entrance.  A problem arose when the weight of the money caused a pronounced list, but that was corrected by shifting ballast to restore Mitchell’s seaworthiness.

     He turned over duties at the Central Finance Agency to his assistant, Ens. Larry Harrison, and accompanied the money to San Francisco.  During a large uneventful ocean trip, Lt. j.g. Goddard learned that Mitchell would be anchored in San Francisco Bay and the money would be transferred ashore in small boats.  When he informed the skipper that such a transfer could only be made if each of the hundreds of money pouches were attached to a separate buoy in the vent o being dropped in the water, the captain quickly initiated message traffic which resulted in pier space at San Francisco being assigned to the transport.

     Mitchell arrived in San Francisco on Primary Election Day, a public holiday in California, but he Federal Reserve Bank remained open to receive the unusually large deposit.  Bank officials were unable to locate sufficient armored cars to transport all that money from pier to bank, so they rented a large semitrailer from a moving company for the job.

     Lt. j.g. Goddard remained responsible for the huge money shipment until it was officially counted and accepted by the Federal Reserve Bank.  He “rode shotgun” in the van with his .45-caliber service automatic at the ready.  The van had no windows, so he could see no other security for the movement of his valuable cargo.  Federal Reserve officials advised him only after he arrived at the bank that a plainclothes officer had been on every street corner during 12-block journey.

     He described the situation when he arrived at the Federal Reserve Bank with all that money … “It was nerve-racking.  I always wondered if it would all balance out with what was supposed to be there.  I knew what was going to happen when they verified this.  There had to be errors and I told them that if it amounted to $50 or less, send me the wrappers that were incorrect and I would remit anything up to $50.  If over $50, I would come back on active duty and stand a board of inquiry.”

     Lt. j.g. Goddard completed transfer of the money to the Federal Reserve on June 4, 1946.  He was detached from active duty and returned home.  He received a telegram from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco 17 days later that read, “Piece verification of coin and currency deposit made by you June 4 completed today and deposit contained a net shortage of $12.23.  To avoid any possible criticism by delaying credit for full amount to Treasurer of the United States, please forward by airmail remittance for $12.23 made payable this bank.”

     He promptly forwarded a check for the requested amount to San Francisco and breathed a sigh of relief.  The 26-year-old resumed his retailing career in New York City, followed by 30 years as personnel director at Penn Traffic Company in Johnstown, Pa., and seven years in county services for youth and the aging before retiring in 1984.

     He credits his Navy service as a factor in his learning responsibility and truthfulness for his success in the business world.  “It was marvelous for future development, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it again.  The Navy experience did much to enable me to accept some major responsibilities in the business in the business world, early on.