I ran across this phrase while reading a recent news article:
I was in the Army in the mid-60s, stationed in Berlin as a telephone repairman / switchboard operator. Our outfit was a Signal company, which included any job pertaining to communications – telephone, radio, microwave, crypto, whatever. Our sergeants and officers were not the the strict gung-ho types you see in war movies or accounts of life in the Infantry. We bunked three to a room. Each of us had a tall closet and a footlocker, where all our worldly possessions were kept. Every Saturday morning we peons headed to a movie theater for a couple of hours of training in some obscure military course. During that time the outfit’s sergeants would go room to room and inspect our gear and the general cleanliness of our quarters. The basic idea was that nobody’s perfect, so each room would get a demerit for one very minor infraction or another (such as one sock was gray from too many washings). You get the idea.