Toughest On The Drill Field

ssgt parmenter and 1stsgt j l stelling

I find it somewhat amusing and ironic that there would be a story on Cpl. JL Stelling from 1964. I enjoyed that story but would like to add a new story to it.

JL STELLING was my DI in 1967. He was a SSgt. at the time, but retired from the Corps as a 1st Sgt.


I made contact with JL through the Sgt. Grit website. It was great to be able to correspond with him, as well as talk on the phone. Just for grins I asked him when he planned on coming up my way, to Dayton, Nevada. Believe it or not, he was planning a trip to Northern California to visit an uncle. I asked if he would come my way to visit, and he said yes! Needless to say, I was blown away that we would be able to get together after 49 years! Well, the visit happened, and it was a most memorable time for me.

Anyone who had JL as a DI knows I speak the truth when I say he was the toughest on the drill field. Honor platoons and good Marines were the result of that toughness. My wife even commented that there was a presence about him. I was lucky to have him as a DI. I feel luckier yet to see him again and thank him for what he gave me.

I included a picture my wife took. We had just finished breakfast at the Gold Dust Saloon in Dayton. JL left from there to return home.

Thanks to Sgt. Grit for the website that made it all possible.

By the way, our platoon was 2051, graduated in late 1967.

SSgt Chuck Parmenter, 1967-1970

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


  • Dave Gongora 1833 Sgt USMC 84-91

    I sure would love to get in contact with our Senior DI Sgt Sauer, and Juniors Sgt’s Smith and Olson from Plt 2016, MCRD San Diego from 1 Feb to 20 Apr, 1984. Can someone help me?

  • Robert L Graziano

    Thank you for your kind words, SSGT Parmenter .I was the author of the stories about Cpl J.L.Stelling .I can still see him walking down the short Company Street , He walked ramrod straight and he had a habit of reaching behind his back to check if his shirt pleats were equal and perfect. .My testing scores were 4.9 (98%)But I was only “Platoon Guide”for 15 minutes .Cpl Stelling ordered us to shine the souls of our field boots.I made a face and said “what”.Our new “Platoon Guide” was a graduate from Texas A&M. William Mike He went straight to the”President’s Own Band” in Washington D,C..I always traveled in the best of company .Through Cpl.Stelling’s efforts, we were “Honor Platoon”.Every Marine believes his DI was the “Best “.You and I know better .God Bless J.L.Stelling “Builder of Marines”

  • William E. Wells

    I would like the address of S/Sgt Pack, Sr. Drill Instructer of Plt. 377, PI that graduated on Nov. 1st. 1971…. One hell of a good Marine..Ran us into the ground, was on the Marine Corps cross country team… I ran into him at Quantico in 72. , and he had made Gy/Sgt… Awesome !!!!!! I think they were looking for future DI’s .. As I remember he was in Korea, in the Army,. And got out to join the Men’s Dept. of the military..U.S.M.C., to all my Marine brothers…..Semper Fi ! Bill Wells 71-73.

  • Judge David W. Long (Ret.)

    One of the two most significant men to have ever crossed my path (both Marines- one a retired Major and aviator) was the Senior DI who took me through boot camp at MCRD San Diego in late 1959/early 1960, S/Sgt. M. C. Short. Although I was “in and out” of our Corps after Korea and before Vietnam the example of leadership he set, the standards he required, his indomitable toughness and unwillingness to accept anything but our best (our = Platoon 288) were lessons of a lifetime. I can’t count the number of times he bellowed at us, “There is nothing Marines can’t accomplish if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” What extraordinary civilian applications that concept has! When I had triple bypass surgery and experienced post-op complications of bilateral pulmonary emboli in 2002, while in the ICU on a ventilator wondering if I would live through the experience, I realized that if I escaped that threat there were people I had to find to thank for their contributions to my life and also some apologies that had to be made. At the top of my list was S/Sgt. Short. It took almost 2 1/2 years but in too long a story for here I found his family in Ohio and learned that he had passed away about the time I was in the hospital in 2002. I had a number of telephone conversations with his widow, Mary, over the years and every November 10th until she passed away in 2012 she received a dozen roses and a note reminding her of the incredible value her husband’s life had to the Marines he trained. Now, semi-retired after a wonderful career culminating in almost 18 years on the Superior Court bench in my county here in California I give thanks every day for the good fortune of having had S/Sgt. Short cross my pass in 1959. None of the success I’ve had in my life would have been possible absent the lessons learned from one extraordinary Marine Corps DI so many years ago. And yes, I found everyone on my list… Thanks have been given and apologies made and, remarkably, accepted. Life is now about keeping those books balanced. Yet another lesson from 1959.

  • Charles Neilson

    I was in Platoon 275, at Dago in August to Nov 1965 with the most memorable and BEST Drill Instructor, Sgt Stelling, doing his magic with our training. Of course we were Honor Platoon! Of course we won EVERY ribbon (except for religion) for our guideon flag! Sgt Stelling put each and every one of us to the ultimate test that prepared us for war. In fact, I would have loved to see him explain to that sniveling female congresswoman, Patsy Schroeder, why a punch in the gut and a kick in the butt saves lives and gets Marines to go beyond their 5th or 6th “wind” and understand that their body can take them further than their brain when its ready to acquiesce to quitting and giving up. She was the enemy of the Corps and Sgt Stelling was the guardian and savior of the Corps. I made Sgt in 21 months and gave up flying jets as well as Marine Security Guard school to get out and go to med school. Well, I competed with all those brilliant rich intellectuals who went to med school to avoid Vietnam and I ultimately got in and have just about ended a career as a family practitioner for 21 years and an emergency physician for the past 18 years. Sgt Stelling was very tough and he prepared his recruits for war and to be ready to accomplish whatever was expected of a Marine…..and that carried over into the slimy civilian world. Very Proud to have been in Platoon 275 under Sgt Stelling. Charles J. Neilson MD, RVN, 7th MTBn, Feb66-Mar67

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