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CHAPTER 5

RULES AND REGULATIONS—Continued

UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE

This is the most frequent offense committed by enlisted men. It takes numerous forms, varying in degrees from the man who is delayed in returning to the ship for reason of blockade of traffic or one who is not called in the morning to the man who deliberately remains out for months or years. It is such a common offense that some enlisted men do not consider it as a serious breach of discipline, and when they are severely punished for it they feel that they have been unfairly treated. The fact that a man deliberately overstays his leave is, of course, a serious military offense regardless of his reason for overstaying, and this fact must be clearly understood. Overstaying leave accidentally or through no fault of your own, due, for example, to a railroad wreck or to a blockade in traffic, is no offense, and your excuse will be accepted if your record is clear and your reputation such that you have never given reason for your word to be doubted. You must realize, however, that, even in the case quoted, if your record and your reputation are bad, officers who hear trumpedup excuses every day are merely human, and they may not believe your story. This is another example of the necessity for keeping your record clear. Overstaying leave accidentally, which, despite the accident, involves neglect on your part—such, for example, as oversleeping yourself—is an offense, but it is not serious provided you get back as quickly as possible after you wake up.

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“ Late trains" are excuses so often used that men frequently back up their own word by securing a written statement from the conductor as to how many hours the particular train was late. Such statements assist the commanding officer in selecting the “ genuine ex

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from the "trumped-up” ones. Overstaying leave deliberately for any reason whatever is a very serious offense, because it defies the authority placed over you. For example, suppose you have orders to return at 8 a. m.

If at 8 a. m. you deliberately fail to return, whether it is because you want a longer liberty, or because you have some friends with you, or because of business, or sickness, you practically say: "I know I am ordered to be back, but I will stay as long as I wish and then let them punish me.” In this manner you are deliberately disobeying an order, and this is a military offense of the most serious nature. So many excuses are considered for this offense that it may be well to consider some of them.

INTOXICATION Some men give as an excuse that they were intoxicated at 8 a. m. and stayed on shore to sober up. It is unnecessary to say that there is never any excuse for your being intoxicated, but if, by any chance, you should feel intoxicated or in need of sleep when your liberty is up, remember that the ship is the best place for you.

If you return to the ship in such a condition and raise no disturbance, your offense will be less serious than it would be if you had overstayed your leave. Consequently your punishment will be lighter.

SICKNESS

Men sometimes state that they were sick and bring the certificate of some doctor. If you are really seriously sick, that is, of course, an excuse. But a doctor's certificate doesn't always prove that fact, for the reason that occasionally men purchase fake certificates or falsify them. For this reason the commanding officer frequently checks up on such certificates, and where found to be faked or falsified the man is not only punished for the actual offense, but for attempted deception and lying to his commanding officer as well.

If you are sick and will likely not be able to return to your ship on time, the proper thing to do is to get word to the ship immediately, giving your address and condition. Then whatever is possible will be done for you. Instead of doing this, if you take affairs into your own hands, your certificate may have to be checked up

and you may be punished for being overtime.

SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY Sickness in the family is sometimes used as an excuse, but this is not a valid excuse unless you have communicated with the ship. You always have time to telephone or telegraph. If you do this before your leave has expired, it creates a presumption in your favor, especially if you have a clear record, as it gives the ship's authorities a chance to communicate with you. Moreover, it shows that you desire to comply with regulations.

REQUESTS OF THE FAMILY Without realizing the seriousness of infractions of discipline, mothers or other members of the family sometimes pursuade men to overstay leave, and they occasionally appear as witnesses before a court. Remember always that this is never an excuse. You are under oath to obey the regulations of the Navy and no

one can relieve you of that duty. Your punishment is just as serious if you remain away at the request of your mother as it would be had you remained away of

your own accord.

DETAINED BY CIVIL AUTHORITIES

Men sometimes give as an excuse that they were held by the civil authorities. The law on this subject is that if men are tried and acquitted by civil authorities they are not to blame, and no punishment is assigned for the absence due to their being thus held; but if they are held by the civil authorities and found guilty of some misconduct, they have been held for reason of their own misconduct, and hence on their return to the ship they will be punished for overstaying their leave. If detained by civil authorities for any cause whatever, you should notify your ship as soon as possible, giving the facts in the case.

MISSING SHIP

It frequently happens that men overstay liberty just before a ship sails, miss their ship, and give themselves up on another ship. In this case they are punished. They lose pay and receive punishment for the entire time they are absent from naval control. This punishment is given because a man's duty is on the ship to which he is attached; there is where he is needed, and during his absence other people must do his duty. If their ship is sailing from the United States, such men are immediately declared deserters. Therefore, if your ship has sailed, try to report on board. If this is impossible report to the nearest ship or station.

STRETCHING OVERTIME TO THE LIMIT

There is one feature about absence over leave that shows up in a very large number of courts-martial. A A man gets out of money, or oversleeps, or for one reason or another finds himself overtime. Thinking he will then be punished anyway, he does not return immediately, but stays away until just before the charge of overtime becomes desertion under the belief that the punishment will be the same or that he might as well be a way eight or nine days as two or three. This is the worst mistake you can make. Always return just as soon as possible. The sooner you get back the easier will be your punishment and the more likely will the officers be to accept your excuse.

Officers always try to help a man who seems to be trying to help himself. It is the deliberate acts which are punished severely, and the longer you remain away the more severe your punishment will be. Never remain away because you feel that you will be punished anyhow.

DESERTION

Desertion consists in absence from station and duty with the intent to leave the service permanently. A man is guilty of desertion if at any time he shows the intention of quitting the service permanently before his term of enlistment is up. (any facts serve to indicate such intent-for example, the disposal of uniform, going away and establishing one's self and failing to make any attempt to return, etc. Much the same excuses as those offered in cases of absence over leave are given to courts as reasons for desertion. Few men realize how frequently deserters are captured. About 7 out of every 10 who desert are either

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