This story was told to me by an engineer who joined the Navy circa 1946. He never was in combat, but he met many who were. In particular he met the electrical engineer who is the main character of this story. Iím not sure if they called themselves electrical engineers back then, but we would call him that now so Iíll just refer to him as an electrical engineer. I don't know his name; I'll call him Lieutenant EE.
Lt. EE was a degreed engineer who received a direct appointment as a Navy officer with the intention that he would report to a training command in Florida and teach RADAR and radio to sailors. But, as is bound to happen occasionally, there was a regular naval officer with exactly the same rank and name. Inevitably, their orders got crossed and Lt. EE was ordered to report to a naval yard and take command of an LST (a type of amphibious landing ship) that was being outfitted. He protested that he wasn't qualified. His superiors were sympathetic, but they said "orders are orders" so you better go report because if you donít you will be AWOL. It will all get straightened out in a week or two at the most. So he reported to the officer in charge of the naval yard where the LST was tied up.
He explained that he wasn't qualified to the OIC (officer in command) of the yard, who was sympathetic but said "orders are orders" and besides, right now that LST isn't going anywhere and its more of an engineer's job anyway. I have to have somebody in charge and at this point, you can probably handle it better than a regular naval officer anyway. It will get straightened out in a week or two. Besides, it will look great on your record. It made sense and so Lt. EE took command.
One thing he discovered was that the Navy has a manual on everything and he was an avid reader, so he started reading and applying his engineer's skills to what was basically a management job and did well. As the crew reported, he found a few sailors that had sea experience with whom he could confer. The outfitting went well and the orders still weren't straight and then it came time to take the LST out for a shakedown cruise. Again he protested that he wasn't qualified and again he was told "orders are orders". The OIC thought it over and told him that he could handle it. There would always be an escort so he would not get lost and the OIC would lend him some experienced seamen and in particular an experienced helmsman. So Lt. EE took the ship out for the shakedown cruise. Things went well.
And the orders still were not straight when he was ordered to take the LST to the Mediterranean. By this time he was feeling pretty good about ship driving and he would be part of a convoy and there would be escorts and so he didn't even protest. He took the ship to Africa, commanded it for about a year, and participated in several combat operations. And then, you guessed it, his orders were uncrossed and he was ordered to Florida to teach RADAR and radio. But, he protested, "I'm pretty good at this now". But he was told "orders are orders" and besides, he wasn't qualified to command a ship. So he went to Florida and spent the rest of the war there.
I wonder what the story is of that other Lt. EE.