The practice of war-time military bonuses began in 1776, as payment for the difference between what a soldier earned and what he could have earned had he not enlisted. Breaking with tradition, the veterans of the Spanish–American War did not receive a bonus and after World War I, they initially received only a $60 bonus.
In the attached letter, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt responds to the request of an ONI special agent for a $60 bonus and World War I service pin. Benjamin Gardiner was a civilian special agent assigned to the Branch Naval Intelligence Office, New York. According to the NY office’s accounting records for April 1918, SA Gardiner was paid a salary of $125 for the month.
In lieu of the bonus and pin, the Office of Naval Intelligence instituted the practice of canceling the identification cards held by representatives of that Office during the war, and returning them to their original holders as a memento of their service.
This practice continues in the current Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), whereby special agents are presented,upon their retirement, a shadow box containing their canceled credentials.