By Rolf Bjornson


There is such a thing as doing your job too well. That also makes people unhappy.

The Time: World War II (prior to the advent of the UCMJ)

The Place: Chicago, Illinois;

Ninth Coast Guard District Office on South Canal Street.

The Brig at Old Chicago Lifeboat Station.

The Players:

Captain Shanley, USCG, District Coast Guard Officer.

CPO Tony Caliendo, USCGR.

Assorted Coast Guard miscreants held in the Brig at Old Chicago Station waiting for Summary and General Courts Martial. Ed. Note-- The Summary under Rocks and Shoals was the same as today's Special Courts Martial under the UCMJ.

The Story Board: CPO Caliendo, a Chicago attorney in civilian life, is assigned to the DCGO where his days are spent working for the District Legal Officer handling the usual mundane legal minutiae. A case involving a wrecked Coast Guard truck brings him to Old Chicago Station where the Fireman 1/c truck driver is awaiting trial for, "Destruction of Government Property." It turns out the Chief and the Fireman both have roots in the same neighborhood near Chicago and CPO Caliendo was persuaded to act as Defense Counsel for the Fireman. The trial was held and the Fireman found, "Not Guilty .... a verdict that surprised man how had some knowledge of the case. While claiming his gear from the Brig, the Fireman passed the word to all the other villains "to get CPO Caliendo as your lawyer." Many months and many trials later, Chief Caliendo, as Defense Counsel, had not lost a case; his skills in case presentation far surpassed those of the Government prosecutors.

The Last Act: Captain Shanley and his staff were perplexed at the statistics that showed the government coming up on the short end of so many trials. The Northern Inspectors and even Headquarters were unhappy; things had to change!!! It is not known who came up with a possible solution ... promote Chief Petty Officer Caliendo to the rank of Ensign. He would then be assigned to the Coast Guard Prosecutor and be unavailable, in most cases as Defense Counsel. This was accomplished much to the despair of those in the Brig awaiting trial.

Prologue: Tony Caliendo remained on active duty in the Coast Guard and retired as a Captain.


From "We've Been There" by Esther Stormer 1992 - Reprinted by permission.

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