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…

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20 comments


  • CWO2 Allen D. Beye

    Love the Quonset huts photo! Many memories!


  • Jim Macklin

    Back in `63 I joined up and was flown on a 707 from St. Louis to San Diego. Stood on the yellow foot-prints where many had stood before.
    Was assigned to Platoon 286 Foxtrot Co. Issued an M14 and two magazines. The bicycle padlock was used to secure my rifle to my rack.
    The platoon was way over strength I found out much later. Life was good. I grew up wearing boots so my feet didn’t hurt like teh weenies who had always worn tennis shoes.
    One day I was on the company street cleaning my M14 when an officer walked up to me. He asked me, “Private, how do you like it here?”
    Being 17 years old I answered “Sir, I could take it or leave it, Sir.”
    Two hours later I was carrying three M14s to the armory.
    A week or two later while a bunch of us were relaxing after lunch and the Sargent came out and told us, “The President has just been shot.”
    A week or ten days later I was told to “sign” on the line. It was over a year later that I found out I didn’t have to sign and I would have been reassigned to another Company and Platoon.
    I’m 72 now and I just wanted to get the story off my heart.


  • Billy Ashworth

    I never heard of the house mouse untill NOW SEMPER FI


  • John T. Lefker

    I was at San Diego in July 3rd. 1953. When did the “House Mice” start?


  • Billy Ashworth

    I was at Parris Island South Carolina in PTL.138 3rd Bat. We’re in the Quonsets huts but we didn’t have any house mouse but that was in 1955


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