Definition of No. 1 air priority (Army) Transport Command): reserved for White House personnel, generals (two-wtar or better),* and personnel on missions of extreme military urgency.
Seaman First Class Leon LeRoy, 18, had an emergency leave and a No. 3 priority. He was on his way to Antioch, Calif. to comfort his recently widowed mother. At Memphis Bluejacket LeRoy was told to get his gear off the plane: his No. 3 priority had been trumped by a No. 1; 300 pounds of critical material was" coming aboard. A Seabee and an Army technical sergeant, both on their way to ailing wives, had to get off too.
LeRoy's eyes popped and his temperature rose when he saw what was remaining aboard the plane. It was a huge crate occupying three-seats-worth of space in the transport. In it was a big (115 lbs.), tawny dog. On the crate, sure enough, was a No. 1 priority sticker. The crate also bore a label signifying that the beast with-in was the property of Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, the son of the President of the U.S.
LeRoy, understandably angry, told a reporter, and the story was out.
In England, where he had been for a fortnight after rejoining his A.A.F. photo-reconnaissance unit, Colonel Roosevelt was asked how come.
The dog was his, all right, he said. It was a pedigreed English bull mastiff named Blaze Hero, one of two he had bought in England and taken to the U.S., in a war-weary B17. Before returning to duty, he had asked an A.T.C. friend to fly Blaze out to his wife, Cinemactress Faye Emerson, in Hollywood, if an empty plane happened to be going that way. That was all he knew about it. Was there a fuss?
"Most Regrettable." Eleanor Roosevelt, who had previously spoken well of Blaze ("a most noble-looking dog") in her syndicated column, said she was shocked. Presidential Secretary Steve Early averred that it was all "a most regrettable combination of errors." A.T.C.'s Major General Harold L. George promised an investigation. Dallas' well-named Bonehead Club tried and failed to airmail a St. Bernard back to the White House. Many a plain U.S. citizen, ears ringing with the week's officially urgent pleas for more manpower, less unnecessary travel, etc., sat down to write an angry letter to his newspaper.
The U.S. would probably never know the name of the A.T.C. man who gave Blaze his No. 1 priority. Apparently somebody at the White Housepossibly tired of wasting good red ration stamps on the meat-eating animalhad asked A.T.C. to ship the dog to Hollywood. So Blaze automatically received the White House priority. General George, red-faced and harassed, swore it would never happen again.
Another spectacular abuse of wartime travel was reported last week by the London Daily Herald, which said that, for a lark, Colonel Glenn Myer, U.S.A.A.F. commander of a troop carrier base in England, had ferried two titled English ladies to Brussels in a U.S. transport plane. Penalties: the ladies were fined $240 apiece for violating British defense regulations; Colonel Myer was summarily recalled to the U.S.