|Paul W. Nesper Short Snorter
The Short Snorter Project
Dr. Paul W. Nesper of Yorktown, Indiana, sent in this short snorter with the following information...
I am a WWII vet and owner of a short snorter bill signed as we were flying over the Amazon enroute to Brazil.
I was a Navy Ensign at the time my bill was signed. My short snorter is two bills, an American dollar and a
Brazilian Cinco Mil Reis. I carried them in my wallet for many years and then realized they were deteriorating.
I had completed Navy Indoctrination School at Dartmouth College and was one of the Navy's "90 day wonder"
Ensigns. My orders from Dartmouth took me to the Navy Postal Service in Washington DC. I knew absolutely
nothing about the postal service except how to affix a stamp to a letter! After a very brief period of instruction
in postal affairs, I was ordered to Recife Brazil to be the Assistant Postal Officer.
My short snorter was signed on 18 March 1943 as we were flying in a NATS plane at 7,000' over the Amazon
River. In those days the Navy still had its own transportation service [NATS]. We were in a DC 3 with bucket
seats running fore and aft on either side of the cabin with freight and mail in the middle of the cabin. Recife
was the headquarters of the South Atlantic Force under the command of Admiral Jonas H. Ingram. The South
Atlantic Force was responsible for escorting convoys south of the equator. Thus we had a number of Navy
ships constantly in and out of port. Admiral Ingram gave strict orders that mail for arriving ships be placed
dockside where it could be seen by the crew of a ship as it was being secured to the dock. Mail was the first
thing put aboard after a ship tied up. I never realized until then the importance of mail from home. This of
course was before the days of email, cell phones, and the many communication devices now available.
My role in all this was to meet the NATS plane from Miami and take the passengers, mail, and freight from the
airport out in the country side to town and the Navy headquarters. The ride into town often proved interesting
in that we would see monkeys playing in the trees and beautiful birds flying about. I was also responsible for
having the mail stacked on the dock exactly where a ship was assigned to tie up and to have it there when the
ship arrived. Not one minute late--but exactly when the ship was due in port. This proved to be tricky every
now and then because the Captain of the Port would change the docking assignment at the last minute forcing
my crew to load up the mail and move it to the new location. At times we just barely got the mail where the
ship was to dock before the first line went over the side.
I learned a very valuable lesson while on this assignemnt in Recife and used it throughout my Navy and civilian
career. Given an assignment, gather about you folks who are experts in carrying out the assignment. Let them
know that you expect them to use their expertise in carrying out the assignment. Then get out of their way and
let them go to work. The enlisted men who manned the Navy post office in Recife were all former employees of
the US Postal Service. They knew how to run a post office! The last thing they needed was a 90 day wonder who
knew nothing about a post office telling them how to run a branch of the Navy postal service.
On January 1, 1944 I was detached and entered the Navy Ammunition Handling program. I was a chemistry
major in college and felt much more at home with powder and explosives than I did in the Navy Postal Service.
The end of WW II found me on Attu Island, one of the Aleutian Islands. I remained in the Naval Reserve and
retired after about 21 years of service as a Lieutenant Commander.