Skip to content

Toughest Old Bird

SSgt J.L. Stelling was my Platoon Commander in 1968. After the first two weeks living in tents, we were the first platoon to be welcomed to the new High rise barracks in San Diego. SSgt J.L. Stelling introduced himself from the top floor while we were outside washing our clothes. From that point on Boot Camp became a whole lot more interesting. He was bad, though, and scared the sh-t out of everyone. The other two D.I’s were p-ssies. SSgt Stelling demanded perfection in everything we did. As a platoon, we won every streamer except the two PT streamers. Believe me, it was hell to pay to the bitter end for not winning them all. Graduating as Honor Platoon we still weren’t good enough to eat with a fork or knife, nor was the smoking lamp lit before we boarded the Busses for Camp Pendleton. He had us by the short hairs to the bitter end. I went from scared, to hating him, to total respect. Before leaving boot camp, I became salty and had developed a mental toughness that I have kept to this day thanks to SSgt Stelling. “There’s always that 10%, there is no excuse, and always do your last order first”. The civilian world hated these Stelling quotes which I live by. He is by far the toughest old bird I’ve ever had the privilege to have known. To this day I still don’t like eating with a spoon.

Platoon 2058, Aug-Oct 1968
RVN, A1/1, Jan-June 1969
PFC Franchot Duncan

Previous article Lineage of the USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor


Dennis F. Hyde - June 7, 2020

On the 3rd of February 1959, we met our Senior D.I. His name was Gunnery Sergeant IJames. Campital I, Capital J. But you shit birds call me Sir. This tough old Marine invented sadistic ways to punish us… both mentally and physically. A better Marine is yet to be born. Had it not been for him, I would have wound up a helper for window washers. I owe him more than I can give. I found out that I could do more than I could ever have dreamed. I owe my survival of Vietnam to him.

Charles Treat - June 7, 2020

In a few days it will be 55 years ago that the Cuban Missile Crisis started as member F/2/11 member of 5th MEB that was formed from members of 1st Marine Div to join up with the 2nd marine division and deployed as an invasion force off the Cuban Coast. to all of us that were in the this Deployment Simper Fi to all Marine Units & Gator Navy ships personal that transported us.

Don Ellington - June 7, 2020

Sgt. Grit, I would like to buy a sign, banner and t-shirt of this design (Don’t mess with an old man, especially if he is a Marine”). When?

John D Lucas Jr - June 7, 2020

Back then DI’s were tough…SSgt Lopez, SSgt Johnson and Sgt Jester Platoon 1059 Honor Platoon…I made PFC out of boot camp…Aug-Oct 1968…Nam L 3/1 Jan- April 1969 when I was wounded…Once a Marine Always a Marine….Semper Fi…..when I got out I had made Cpl….wanted to stay in but wounds kept me from completing my goal……….

Sgt A.J.Manos - June 7, 2020

All 3 of my D.I.s were as mean as a bamboo pit viper on steroids.SSGT Brown,SGT J.I.Justice,and SGT R.F.Pornavetts.We were the Honor Platoon.That was the only streamer we won and thanks to me,we should of not won it but we did.I think of those Marines as well as the recruits who were in platoon 307,everyday.If we had not won,I would of not made it to graduation.There is a GOD,Semper Fi.

Guy Trump - June 7, 2020

Well tried 4 times to register for the free gift. Keeps pop up error. One way not to have winnings

Leave a comment

* Required fields