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May 2024
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Hitchhiker’s Identity Revealed
Filed under: General, Rutherford & NJ, Medical, Getting Drafted
Posted by: Ken @ 10:00 pm

Liberty ShipThis is Part 4 of 4 episodes. The first episode begins at this link.

The next morning I caught the first Eastern Airlines shuttle out of Newark Airport, a four-engine turboprop Lockheed Electra, my first airplane ride.

A short cab ride from Washington National Airport took me to the House Office Building. Congressman Pete Rodino’s aide greeted me as I entered his office. He informed me that he had received my letter and contacted the Public Health Service. They had already located my record and they were expecting me. The aide said to return to his office and we could go out for lunch.

Things went smoothly at the PHS office, and I probably was treated the same as any other applicant, despite the political meddling in my case. One surprise was that I had to pass a written examination on public health and preventive medicine as a condition of acceptance of my application. Luckily, my interest in microbiology and parasitology, along with over three years of private practice experience with venereal and other communicable diseases left me confident that I had passed the test. Before I left the PHS offices, I received a phone call from one of NJ Senator “Pete” Williams’ staff members, asking if they could be of any further assistance, surely thanks to my patient Jack’s intervention.

The only hitch was that I still needed to pass a physical examination, and that day the clinic that usually performed it was not staffed for that purpose. They set me up for an exam at the Marine Hospital in Staten Island during the following week. I walked back to the Congressman’s office, and his aide and I had lunch at a spot frequented by many members of Congress. I met Senator John Tower of Texas, who dropped by to speak to Congressman Rodino’s aide. I was impressed that a man with such a tall name was indeed very short!

I flew back, and the next morning after making rounds I recounted the prior day’s events with other medical staff members in the hospital coffee shop. One of those present was an Internist, who immediately recognized my Max as one of his long term patients. He said Max was a lawyer, and quite an accomplished one.

He asked if Max told me about the time he spent in Federal Prison.


Yes, Max got caught up in some kind of contract fraud involving a Greek shipping magnate, and was convicted a few years after the end of World War II. Seems the Greek was purchasing Liberty Ships from the US Government and there were misrepresentations and financial shenanigans. Max did his time in a “country club” type of prison up near White Plains, New York.

Max never mentioned the name of the Greek. Does the following passage apply to Max’s grateful client? From The Life of Aristotle Onassis: The Man, the Myth, the Legend, by Eva Prionas, Christos Kiriazis, Mike Elisofon, Andy Roberts, and Andy Salter:

“[Aristotle Onassis was] offered one of the greatest business opportunities of the post-war world. The United States Naval Commission put the Liberty Ships that were built during the war on sale. The price was established at $550,000, of which $125,000 could be used as a down payment, with the rest coming in 7 years at 3% interest.

“Many ship owners were skeptical on the construction techniques used on these boats, but Ari’s opinion was that they would be a good investment. His problem was that he didn’t have the money for the 16 Liberty Ships he had intended to buy, so he applied for a bank loan. His technique was quite a bit risky; for, before actually receiving the money from the bank, he contracted transports of coal in South America, France, and Germany on ships that he didn’t own. He then used these contracts as a guarantee to the banks, who gave him his money.

“He used a different method to buy the T2 oil tankers that the navy put on sale for 1,500,000 each. As the principle clause of the sale, however, the tankers must be sold to an American citizen. Ari avoided this obstacle by creating an American company, United States Petroleum Carriers, with American shareholders. The government sold the new company four oil tankers. The next day, Onassis and his men anonymously took over the shares of the company that fell under the control of Ari.”

According to“In 1954, the FBI investigated Onassis for fraud against the U.S. government. He was charged with violating the citizenship provision of the shipping laws which require that all ships displaying the US flag be owned by US citizens. Onassis entered a guilty plea and paid $7 million.”

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