Raised an Eyebrow

Raised an Eyebrow

In the previous century, in the days of Quonset Huts and M-14’s and Robert Strange McNamara’s accursed sateen utilities, I was proudly wearing the black fair leather belt of the Platoon Commander, (also otherwise known as the Senior Drill Instructor) and was, so far I as I know, one of only two SGT Platoon Commanders on the entire Depot (San Diego) at the time….the other being one ‘Frog’ Martin, whose top ribbon read “continued on the other side”… broken time after Korea, etc.

We periodically were reminded that “there will be NO ‘personal servitude’ by any recruit”….which, at the time, in L Company, meant assigned house mouse’s…..of course, every platoon in the series had two or three, with varying duties… changing linen on the duty DI’s rack, running coffee, etc.

It was time for the 7th week inspection, to be held by the Company Commander….in this case, Captain Powell….a Mustang. The house mice were two feather merchants who knew they had it made, and their positions were both at the small end of the first squad. The inspection went well, and as I proceeded the Captain down the line of fourteen scrubbed (brush and Fels-Naptha soap) faces, one of the questions he asked of each and every recruit in the front rank was “Who are the house mouse’s in this platoon?”…..and fourteen times, he heard ‘Sir? house mouse, Sir? the Private doesn’t understand the question, sir’… including from the two very maggots he was searching for.

As has been the custom since inspections were invented, the inspecting officer, his note-taker, and I circled the platoon, coming back to the front, where Capt Powell bade me have the platoon stand at ease while he gave me his impressions of the platoon, the things he liked, and the things he thought needed additional work… all very professional, in a slightly relaxed way… and when he was done, raising his voice just slightly, he said “Sgt Dickerson, I’ve got a couple of footlockers in the trunk of my car that need to be carried into the Company Office… I need the house mice out here.”

KaPow!… two sets of heels came together, two rifles moved smartly to port arms, and… two hice mice stepped off smartly, left foot first…

Capt Powell just looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and said ‘Ummm-hummm’… I never heard another word about it…

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

20 comments


  • Johnny Reyes Jr, CMSgt USAF Ret. USMC 58-63 USAF 72-00

    I believe you are correct, Bill. The hills across the street from MCRD in San Diego where filled with houses. On the depot side, the naval training center was on one side and the airport and Convair Aircraft were on the other. The hills in the photo look like Camp San Onofre. I was In Echo Co. the fall of 1958..


  • Michael McManus

    Was at MCRD SanDiego in late ’64, ,Plt 3006. Sure as hell we had house mice!


  • Bill Allen

    The Quonset Hut shown was from ITR at Camp Pendleton not Boot Camp in San Diego. I was in Plt. 367 from May 9th to July 8th 1967.


  • Frank Ball

    If the Captain’s name was Don Powell, he was my CO on Barracks Duty at NAS Cecil Field, FL in the early 70’s. A good man and a solid Marine.


  • Billy Myers

    i went through boot camp in San Diego in the summer of ’60. We, a group of 25 kids, traveled on a train from New Orleans to San Diego. The trip took three days. I had just turned 17 and my mother gave me $5.00 to spend on the journey. Not long after our departure from New Orleans I lost the money in a Cajun card game called BooRay. I was in Platoon 363 and our senior Drill Instructor was SSgt. Marvin Paxton. We lived in quonset huts and did all of our menial duties, such as cleaning rifles (M-1 Garand), polishing brass, writing letters, studying, etc., seated on our galvanized buckets on the streets between the huts. If I remember correctly that bucket was almost as important as your rifle. They were essential to your existence and you better have one. We had a house mouse and I remember him distinctly. He was from Georgia and his name was Dillard Smith. The smallest guy in the platoon. He served as a valet for the Drill Instructors as he made their racks, polished their brass, shined their shoes, etc. Smith had it made, in a way, but he also was often subjected to the wrath of the Drill Instructors. When we were at the rifle range, then at Camp Matthews, Paxton made Smith fight runners from other platoons who were much larger than he. For all of his suffering he was rewarded with a promotion to Pfc. out of boot camp. We also had a mail mouse, who like Smith, was also on the small side. He was from Illinois and his name was Arley Hasten. I am 75 now and I hope that Smith and Hasten enjoyed good lives and are both alive and doing well.


Leave a comment