Bane of our existence…

Travel claims…

Anybody that spent time in the military has a ton of stories of travel claims gone wrong.  Juvat’s four part tale of woe over at Old AF Sarge HERE makes me wonder how THAT travel claim went, and it reminded me of one such incident that happened to us back in the day.

Normally when you deploy as a squadron you’re on what is called blanket travel, e.g. one set of travel orders for the entire squadron.  However…

We were detached from the deployment site for various missions and thereby lies the tale…

We were detached on a set of 3 day TAD orders to go from site A to B to fly one mission.  Having flown said mission we were preparing to depart when we received ‘further tasking’ from higher, now requiring us to go from B to C (and change operational commanders).  So two more flights from C and we’re… NOT going back… Now going to D…

From D we fly one mission, recover at E, fly and back to D on day 11.  With me so far?

So we finally get told we can leave, fly back to C, crew rest and get up to go back to A… Not so fast, changed orders from original operational commander now wants us at location F… Sigh… And it’s COLD, and we have flight suits, and shorts and polo shirts…  And we’re out of money… And have been for a week…

On arrival at F, we go on alert to fly… for NINE @#$%^% days… and never fly.  Finally get a day off, then five more days on alert, before we’re released.

Finally arrive back at site A 26 days after we left on a 3 day trip…  A hour after landing, we’re told we’re going BACK to site F 12 hours later, and spend another two weeks there, flying twice (on another set of TAD orders for 3 days).

Now as all good aviators know, you always get your orders stamped in and out on travel (CYA don’t you know)… Problem was Site E didn’t have anybody that was Navy to stamp the orders, so the USAF det stamped them, before we went out to the hotel (and didn’t stamp quarters not available on the orders).

Soooo… End of deployment, and we are all frantically digging in helmet bags, Nav bags, and flight suits for old copies of TAD orders, receipts, etc.  Manage to find enough to cover all the dets (59 days of a 178 day deployment), and the entire crew duly fills out the claims so that everyone’s matches (I think it was something like an 11 page claim)…

And we Xerox and attach probably an additional 30 pages of documentation, orders, receipts, etc. to each claim.  As the mission commander, it was my job to make sure they got into Personnel so they could be submitted for payment, so after a double check, I trot my happy ass down to Personnel, turn every body’s claim in rubber banded together to the Personnel Chief (Now my Nav at the time was a finance and accounting major, he’d done some calculations and figured we were owed somewhere between $2000 and $3000 dollars).

A month, maybe a month and a half goes by, most of the people in the squadron have been paid, and not a single one of us has seen anything…  So I go talk to Personnel, they tell me to wait, Travel will get to them eventually…

Another couple of weeks go by and finally the flight engineer gets a check.  For $21!!!


I tell him don’t cash it, and back to Personnel I go… Get the Personnel Officer in his office and I ‘think’ I might have been a tad irate about this time… So he calls over to Travel- Sure enough NONE of us is getting over $50 back.  I think I might have made a mild threat about this time, and told him ‘I’ was personally going to Travel to chat with them.

I stopped back in the office on the way out the door and picked up my Xerox copy of the claim I’d submitted and off to Travel I went.  After a couple of rounds with the front desk and one supervisor, I finally got to the Travel Officer, and he saw that I wasn’t going away.   So he calls in the Chief and one of the people to ‘explain’ to this dumbass aviator why he wasn’t getting any money back.  Low and behold, they bring in our claims and there is not a SINGLE piece of paper for justification attached!!!

I show them the Xerox of my original claim, and they profess ignorance, saying they can’t pay and almost but not quite accusing me of defrauding the government by filing a false claim.  I point out each copy that supports every TAD trip, and the Chief seizes on the 3 day cum 26 day trip, stating they were only valid for the 3 original days.  He needed more documentation to actually prove we’d been to the other places, to which I pointed out the various stamps on the reverse…

Still not good enough… At this point I was pissed, so back to the squadron I go, and into the vault, because I knew there were classified orders directing us place to place.  Sure enough, I find message traffic from higher to the CO directing each step of our trips.  I get with the custodian and he makes up a package of all the messages, and signs them out to Travel with me as the courier for the next morning.

Next day it’s back to Travel, and I walk into the Travel Officer’s office package in hand, and flop it on his desk and tell him to sign.  Of course he wants to know what he’s signing for, and about that time the Chief comes in.  I tell the officer it’s classified message traffic up to X level, and verifies all our travel.  He literally refused to touch it, and looked at the Chief, telling him to take the copy I’d brought of the justification and pay us.  The Chief had done some checking and told me as an aside, that when the paperwork had come in to Travel, there wasn’t ANY justification attached to any of our claims.

Back to our Personnel office I go, and find out the asshole assistant personnel officer decided since the travel claims didn’t all fit in the boxes he had, to rip our 30 pages of justifications off our 11 claims so everything would fit in the box.


Two weeks later we finally got paid, almost a month later than the rest of the squadron.

OBTW, that asshole assistant personnel officer is now flying for Delta and STILL can’t sign for an airplane… 🙂


Bane of our existence… — 23 Comments

  1. Gosh, that brings back memories!! TDY with “no money”.

  2. Hehe! There are some things about the Navy that I DON’T miss!

  3. Now I see why you asked about the travel pay. Had my share of run ins with “shoe clerks”, but never really had any hassles with personnel. My wife was a personnel officer, so maybe that had something to do with it. I could appeal to a higher power.

  4. Oh, yes.

    When next we sit down and speak about the old days, I’ll share similar tales of woe.

    Buddy, it’s not just the Navy.

  5. I can tell you that on many Navy bases, the officers overseeing the Personnel Office were TDY assignments from whatever squadron was based there, and they were NOT happy about it.

    I’m surprised you got that much cooperation.

  6. Wow. None of my finance/travel stories come CLOSE to this. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I actually have any travel/finance horror stories. The AF was very, very good to me… even when my two-week TDY to Hawaii stretched into a month and beyond because of “issues” with the FAA (they chronically refused to release the joint-use long-range radar to my team for depot maintenance, which is what I was there for). I just bopped on down to finance at Hickam and got an advance when I ran out of money, several times. And then went off to the beach.

    Yep, life WAS hard… why do you ask? 🙂

  7. Travel Stories From A Three Letter Agency:
    My wife worked on a travel disbursement system. Biggest problem? Getting INTELLIGENCE officers to understand the basic concept of the International Date Line and why traveling across it AND in which direction affects your days of travel.
    “Why did you say your went EAST across the I.D.L.?”
    “Well, I was going to the Far East so I HAD to be going east, right?” *headdesk*

    A colleague’s trip was cancelled. He’d been given a sizable cash advance. He went to return money … several times … over many months. The travel office refused to accept the money due to a variety of really, Really, REALLY stupid reasons. Colleague used the cash to opened an interest bearing account at Credit Union on 1st floor. THIRTEEN months after initial payment the disbursement office chief showed up at his office with security officer demanding to know why colleague had “stolen” the cash. All the documentation was laid before the disbursement chief. He was also advised that the IG would getting copies that afternoon. Cash was withdrawn from the CU and the interest to treat his wife to a very nice weekend.

  8. Woody- Yeah… sigh…

    N91- Oh yeah…

    Juvat- LOL, no fair! 🙂

    LL- I can imagine…

    WSF- Amen!

    Rev- How I got that is another story… 🙂

    Buck- Well, you were Air Force… They just screwed with the Navy…

    Stretch- ROTF, good for him!

  9. I’m with Buck.
    I did nothing but travel for USAF.
    I’d get advances and pay checks at Air Stations, Navy Bases, Comm Sites, etc.
    Only problem was a large car rental.
    I needed a receipt to get paid. I needed to pay to get a receipt.
    A guy I was friends with from tech school (thanks Mike Overreem) lent me $1500. I sent him a check when I got paid, and I’ve never seen him since.

  10. In my first year out of residency, I got sent TDY twice. Each time for 2 1/2 months. The first time was about 2 weeks after I’d arrived at my new duty station, too.

    I lived in the BOQ and was authorized a rental car while I was there, but I had to pay for it all up front. I was also trying to keep the utilities and other bills on my house back home paid on time. Got a little touch-and-go at times, but the size of the checks I got afterwards… Damn! 😀

  11. Ed- Y’all had it better than we did… sigh Once I ended up with $7k on my credit card paying for hotel rooms in Nova Scotia because the paychecks never showed up…

    Pedi- Yeah, I think we’ve ALL been there…

    Rick- Yeah, I did…

  12. Had a det with me – 4 junior guys. We were out of pocket for 4 months – food, local transport, the works. Luckily we were in a contract hotel. The guys were very junior, so I was pretty much feeding us all. Multiple requests went into the bit bucket, I ended up going back to HQ on my own hook to discuss the situation with the personnel office. A chance meeting with the CMC got my issue some personal attention from higher, and made me a permanent enemy in the person of the personnel chief, a member in good standing of the Philipino Mafia. Made my life interesting every chance he got for the next couple years. Got the boys paid, though. Ah well… those were the days.

  13. Stationed at NAS Capodichino Naples Italy. My job was to go wherever a carrier was going to pull in for a few days and give all the non-carrier qualed desk jockeys a way to get their four hours per month minimum in the air. So this time I went to Nice France for 7 days and had the TDY money in my pocket. Comes time to go back to Napoli and two pilots show up and off we go. I’m catching some Z’s in the back when we land. Open the door and this sure isn’t Napoli! T’was Piza. There for another week, down to about $30. More pilots show up, when we land the next time, it was Malta, Same routine another 6 days. More drivers, another hop and we are in Valencia Spain, they had no idea how long I was to be there. Been broke and living in the plane now for the last 12-14 days. Been bumming money from the pilots to eat. Finally, after 8 days, two more show up to take me home. Fat Chance, diverted to Palma De Majorica for another 7 days. Now I am eating in the Spanish Army mess hall 3 meals a day while I am promising them I will get money sent to them when I finally get home. I knew the ship was across the Island from the airport so I decide to aboard and try to get paid. Hiked across, get there, no damned boat!!! they left and left me with NO drivers! Slept that night on the hill side. Good thing it was summer.So get a ride back to airport on a donkey cart in the morning. Get on the radio to try and call The Air Station. No joy, to far away I guess, I was also no radio geek. After being there for 11 days a big beautiful R5D-4 from VR-24, home base Napoli showed up. I explained my problem and they said they would make sure someone came and got me and my Small Navy Bomber alias SNB-5 BuNo 39115. Before they left they gave me all the leftover box lunches and a case of tuna fish. I also had to get one of the pilots to over to the Spanish Mess hall to “sign for me”. They didn’t want me to get away without being reimbursed for feeding me for three weeks. 3 Days later I was on the way home, REALLY!! Touring the Med on $93.00 and 46 days!

  14. Like Stretch said … ain’t just the military.

    First we start with the premise that the traveller’s main goal is to rip off Uncle. Then we determine which travel method from A to B will cause the greatest displeasure, discomfort, and connecting flights for the traveller … because, after all, if you’re travelling, you’re obviously only using it as an excuse for a paid vacation, so why should it be convenient?

    And I’m not sure why per diem on a 10-hour >travelIso< picky about "authorized" comp time (ah-h-h … that "Shall" vs "Should" wording) beyond 8-hours has no problem having the traveller travel on Sunday as a "not-at-work-day". Which is why … for some reason … meetings always seem to get scheduled before FedTraveller gets involved for TWTh.

    And so it goes …


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  16. Ed- Ulcer… sigh

    ORT- Yeah, thankfully I transferred shortly after I had that little sit to… :-0

    Ed- OUCH!!! That’s even worse than ours… But Majorica isn’t a bad place… 🙂

    Quiz- Don’t get me started… sigh… I can’t tell you how many weekends I’ve spent on airplanes… And NO comp time, cause it’s ‘non-work hours’…

  17. One from the civilian side for ya –
    I was a field Engineer for a very large defense company for many years – traveled all the time usually 4-6 weeks at a job. Turned in travel vouchers weekly. Used my personal AmEx card(points don’tcha know). So I’m doing a job, sending my vouchers back to the office. Waiting for the deposit so I can pay my AmEx bill(which is running around two grand per week). Couple of weeks go by, no deposit; couple more weeks go by, still no deposit, AmEx bill is now around eight grand and they’d like to be paid. I call the office and am told sorry we will take care of this. Couple more weeks go by and now I’m explaining to AmEx that I can’t pay the bill until I get paid and by the way I still need to use the card.
    Fortunately AmEx understands. Upshot was I get back to the office after 10 weeks and find out that my supervisor had gone on vacation and his replacement had just let the vouchers pile up until he got back. Deposit was a little north of $14K and took a manager above the department head to sign off on it.

    • emdfl- OUCH!!! I’d have been having a chat in the parking lot with ‘that’ individual…

  18. As a “new to the fleet” Ensign, in my squadron. Sorting out this sort of stuff as a branch officer for the enlisted in my shop, actually gave me and my Butter Bar some self worth. lol

    • Me- Yep, a KEY duty for the Div/Branch O… And the sailors will either love you or hate you afterward! 🙂