Chapter Fourteen - Graduation, Gen Accounting Office and Army Audit
The training concluded and we boarded the train back to Atlanta.
We were well pleased with the quality of the training and with AAA for
having provided it. We were not pleased that AAA had made us pay for the
class rooms without telling us they were doing it. I vowed to get my
twenty one dollars back from AAA. I brought it up to the person who had
been designated as training officer but got no satisfactory answer. I
filed a claim with the agency that handled our travel pay. My claim was
approved and AAA was ordered to pay every trainee. It did not make me
popular with national AAA but had no local impact. In fact, I was told
by our regional director that he admired me for doing it.
We were assigned to some minor audits in the Atlanta area but
were soon called in and asked if any of us wanted to go to a new branch
of AAA being opened in Birmingham. They were having trouble getting
volunteers and since none of us had roots in Atlanta they felt we might
volunteer to go. All of us decided to take them up on it and soon we
were reporting to John Stroud in the Calder Building in Birmingham. I
found a small motel willing to give me a special rate provided I stayed
there all the time I was in Birmingham. They knew I would at times be on
an audit for months out of town.
I did not have a car and decided it was time I got one. I bought
a 1955 Ford in Birmingham and had many problems with it. They could
never fix it so I went to Tuscaloosa one week-end and bought a 1955
Chevrolet. I had a problem with AAA though in that they would send three
or four of us on an audit and just authorize one car. They always
authorized the same person to provide the car and he had a very old car
with terrible tires on it. We would have a flat tire every fifty to one
hundred miles and have to wait around while he changed it. Then at the
next town he would have the flat fixed and we would wait around again.
We finally objected so loudly that they gave up and authorized each
person to take their own car, for which they paid five cents per mile if
you drove alone or seven cents if you had another auditor with you.
We audited the American Red Cross blood program. The Army paid
the Red Cross the portion of the expense applicable to the Army portion
of the blood program. We found that in many cases expenses unrelated to
the Army or the blood program were being charged to the blood program
and prorated to the Army. Our audit was extended to Red Cross blood
programs all over Alabama and we made short visits to a dozen small
towns. We discussed our findings with the Red Cross director in
Birmingham, pointing out that his wife did not even work and was being
paid a huge salary and all of it was being charged to the blood program.
There were many, many expenses being charged to the blood program that
had no relationship to it and overall the Army was paying about five or
six times what it should pay. He just laughed at us and told us we could
take our findings and stick them and when the dust settled Red Cross
would be paid in full. He was correct because the national procurement
officer chose to ignore our findings and paid Red Cross the full amount
We were assigned to assist Tom Howard, an auditor in charge from
the Atlanta AAA office in making an audit of Anniston Ordnance Depot.
This was where I met my future wife. She was a supervisor in the Depot
Property Branch. I was selected to audit Depot Property and went to
Building 22 and saw her there and decided we would get married. I asked
her for a date and told her on that first date that we were going to get
married. The rest of that story is covered elsewhere.
Depot Property had a big job and a tough job providing not only
house keeping supplies, construction materiel, etc to the entire depot
but also parts required for rebuild of a wide range of major items by
the Depot Maintenance Division. It was a wonder they did as well as they
did but there were many minor things wrong and we made each one into a
finding, usually making it sound like it was worse than it really was.
My future wife had many of the findings in her area of responsibility.
If I had my auditing to do all over again I would give the minor
findings to the responsible supervisor without making an official record
of it. I learned much later that the Army Inspector General will also
report the minor findings. In many cases they got it from our AAA
reports and rehashed it, just causing much more administrative work for
units already bogged down with routine work. In some cases, reporting
corrective action on audit report findings further prevents them from
getting routine work accomplished. They also had audits from General
Accounting Office and from their local Internal Review Office.
The depot was also responsible for national supply and had
missions to receive, store and ship general supplies. Their customers
were scattered all over the world. They also had branch offices of five
Army Stock Funds. We did not discover the stock funds until our audit
was almost over. Harry Barr and I made the stock fund audits and
discovered the stock fund financial records were all out of balance and
that imbalances were being maintained on spread sheets and prorated at
month end to balance the records.
The audit of Anniston Ordnance Depot lasted five months. The
depot was happy to see us leave. Frances Caton and I were engaged before
I left (details later) and I had talked to the chief of the Internal
Review Office and had a promise of a job starting the day we were
My next audit was at Fort Rucker in Ozark, Alabama and also
lasted five months. J. Thornton from Atlanta was our auditor in charge.
J. was just a GS-11. His drinking problems had kept him from being
promoted. He had several GS-11's, a couple of GS-9's and John Cotten and
myself on his team. John and I were the only two of the trainees
assigned to this audit and we were GS-7's now.
We checked in at the Mills Hotel in Ozark. They had a weekly
rate of $15.00. John and I were both scratching bug bites the next
morning and decided to find a better place to stay. The only place in
town other than the Mills Hotel was The Candlelight Inn and a room was
$12.00 per day. Our per diem rate was now $9.00 per day to cover room
and meals. John and I got a double room with two beds for $18.00 per
day. The room rent took our entire per diem, with nothing left for
meals. We decided it was worth it as neither of us enjoyed scratching.
We were assigned to an old Bachelor Officer Quarters building at
Fort Rucker. It was unheated and we were told personnel were not
available to fire the boiler and we would have to do it ourselves. I was
assigned that as an added duty. I built a fire and checked it several
times per day for a couple of days, getting dirty in the process. I got
tired of it and went out to the boiler room and shut off the water and
built a roaring fire. Soon the radiators were dancing and it was very
hot and all the windows were open. J. Thornton notified Fort officials
and someone came and checked it and ordered us to clear the building as
the boiler was likely to explode. The fort assigned someone to fire the
There was one GS-11 named Clatie. He had transferred in grade
from Internal Revenue Service to Army Audit Agency. Clatie spent half
his time worrying about his hair and the other half worrying about how
to get more gas mileage and save more money. He had a really thick head
of hair and I could not understand why he worried about it so much. He
carried a mirror and was forever looking at his hair. John and I found
someone with identical hair and talked them into cutting off some of it
for us. Clatie kept his comb in his coat pocket and one day when he had
his coat off we got his comb out and hung a wad of that hair in it.
Later in the day he whipped his comb out and ran it through his hair a
couple of times and when he looked at the comb we thought he was going
to pass out. He got real white and kept staring. John passed by and
looked at it and told him no wonder his hair was starting to look
thinner. I followed up with a similar comment and Clatie took leave and
went to Birmingham to see a hair specialist.
Clatie was a real cheap skate and had a device to increase gas
mileage. About all it did was increase the air and decrease the gas and
when you used it you took a real chance of seriously damaging your
engine. The car was very hard to start with the device on it. You had to
remove the carburetor, put the device on and then put the carburetor
back on. You had to be ready for the highway as it would not keep the
engine running in town. It took a long time to do but Clatie would put
it on his car, remove it when he got home, install it before he left,
and remove it when he got to Fort Rucker. He went home every week-end.
John and I were the only ones that stayed there seven days a week.
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| Frances J. Bowerman||Wedding of Tom & Frances|
John Stroud, the Birmingham branch chief, stuttered very badly.
At times it would take him almost a minute to say a word. John and I
were called in once for a branch meeting and were sitting around the
office. We kept hearing someone talking and peeped in Mr Stroud's
office. He had a tape recorder and was recording. When he got to a bad
word for him he would turn the tape off and try to get it back on just
as the word came out right. Much, much later he played the tape back and
it sounded really cool, compared to his normal.
Ruth Savage was one of the office girls who typed, mimeographed
reports and did general office work. John and I always cornered Ruth
when we got to the office as she would tell us who was in trouble, who
was brown nosing, who was getting promoted, who was screwing who, and
much, much more.
Milt Waring came down to check on us and insisted on all of us
going to a local dance. We went in Harry Barr's car. Milt came running
by yelling for us to come on. We ran with him and jumped in the car just
as a crowd of people came out and started picking up rocks and throwing
them at us. We asked Milt what had happened and he said he asked this
young girl to dance and while they were dancing he asked her if she
wanted to do sex. She said she would have to ask her boy friend and next
thing he knew two or three kids were coming at him with knives in their
One of the GS-11's was a CPA but was either awfully dumb or
senile. He was in charge of an audit of transportation for a couple of
days. He was asked by a fort official what the purpose of the audit was
and after rambling around for awhile he said the purpose was to write a
report. He was sitting on a waste basket while he talked and was smoking
a cigarette. He was flipping ashes between his legs and the paper in the
can caught on fire. We had to lift him off the can as he seemed to be
pretending the fire did not exist. J. Thornton put me in charge of the
audit the next day. This same guy complained to Milt that he was a GS-9
and Milt asked him if he wanted his grade changed. He said he did and
Milt had him sign a form letter. A couple of weeks later he received
notice of change to lower grade, per his request, to GS-7. He called
Milt and Milt just told him that he had asked for a change and he was
not worth more so he thought he meant less.
This was the same guy John and I played a dirty trick on. We sat
near him and I said "12" and John laughed hysterically. John said "33"
and I rolled on the floor laughing. I said "48" and John laughed and
said "29" and I laughed. We kept it up and finally this guy said "45"
and started laughing. Neither of us cracked a smile and then went on
with our funny numbers game. The guy tried three or four more times and
we would look at him and shake our heads. Finally he asked why we did
not laugh and John told him that number was not funny. He tried three or
four more times with the same reaction from us. Finally he repeated the
number John had just used and pointed at us and laughed. We looked at
each other and said nothing. He told us we had just used that number and
laughed. John told him repeats were not funny. Then John immediately
used it again and we rolled in the floor laughing. He started yelling
that it was a repeat and John told him of course it was but it was a
repeat once removed and eligible for funny. He then tried that and
yelled it was a repeat twice removed. I told him John had already used a
repeat twice removed. We almost had him in tears before he quit and
John and I became very close friends. We found the GS-11's and
GS-9's were incompetent. J. Thornton found the same thing and set up two
teams with John in charge of one and me in charge of the other. We made
a comprehensive audit of Fort Rucker, with many significant findings,
plus the minor garbage we were expected to include in the report. When
the audit was finished, J. Thornton released everyone but me and I
helped him write the final report and discuss it with the Commanding
General of Fort Rucker.
I was finally released and that ended my career with AAA. I went
to Anniston on leave to get married and my records were transferred to
the depot Civilian Personnel Office. I was to be a GS-7 auditor in the
Internal Review Office after the honeymoon.
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