The Private Life of Dick O'Donnell

Corporal With Microscope Inspects Rifle
-- and Dick Passes

By Pvt. Richard W. O'Donnell, 1951

Edited by John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

FORT DEVENS, MASS. -- After you spend all day shooting your rifle, it seems that you're supposed to spend all night cleaning it.

You tear the rifle down. You take each part of the rifle and scrub it once. Then you scrub it twice. Then a third time for good measure.

[Left, "Corporal Silva took out a magnifying glass and looked at my rifle."]

After you have scrubbed each separate part about 90 times, you put the rifle together again and await an inspection of it.

Cpl George Silvia, chief inspector of rifles, finally arrives on the scene.

"Alright gentlemen," he says, "tear the rifles down again. I want to

inspect each individual part."

We tear the rifles down again.

Cpl Silvia begins the inspection.

I've heard Army inspections were thorough. I never believed anything could be inspected so thoroughly as the Corporal inspects our rifles.

He never smiles. He seems to scowl at each part he exams. If he finds something suspicious, he pulls out a high-powered microscope to aid him. With this microscope, he can spot a speck of dust that is just in the early stages of development. I That's how thorough the inspector of rifles is when rifle examination time rolls around.

He examined my rifle one day. He pulled out the microscope and studied my barrel for a while. Then he studied each individual part. After what seemed to be five hours of scrutiny, he said my weapon was clean.

I fainted.

Five minutes later I woke up and asked Gerry Sheehan what happened.

"You passed the rifle inspection," Gerry told me.

I fainted again.

Frankly, I can't see why the Army issues me a rifle. I can't hit anything.

I spend all day on the rifle range and don't even come close to the bulls-eye. Then, I have to come back to the barracks and clean that rifle.

I think it's a mean trick.

It would be alright if I hit even the target.

But I can't hit the target.

I always aim at the target. Slowly, carefully, I sight my gun at the bulls-eye. When I'm certain every thing is perfect, I shoot.

I still miss. It must be the gun.

When you get a bulls-eye, they send up a white disc.

When you get a near bulls-eye, they send up a red disc.

When you miss completely they send up a red flag. This red flag is known as "Maggie's drawers".

I've got so many "Maggie's drawers" that I could open a lingerie store.