3rd RTBn. 1stSgt. reunited with former recruit on the drill field
By LCpl. Virgil P. Richardson
| | July 03, 2002
;MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT/EASTERN RECRUITING REGION PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - --
Every recruit has that one drill instructor that they emulate, even above all the others. For Sgt. Jonathan Wrigley, it was "Drill Instructor Sgt. Stoll."
"I told myself when I graduated from Recruit Training that I would earn the rank of sergeant and become a drill instructor, and I would be like him as much as possible," said Wrigley.
The "him" Wrigley is referring to is Gunnery Sergeant Leonardo Stoll, Kilo Company first sergeant. Recently the two were reunited on the drill field. After an extended separation, it was like old times for Stoll.
" I was about to graduate from Drill Instructor school. As I walked through the halls I saw GySgt. Stoll and straightened up without even thinking about it,"
Wrigley said with a grin. When asked what he said to his old tormentor after all those years, Wrigley said the response came naturally: "Good morning, sir!"
Wrigley grew up always wanting to be in the Marine Corps. After graduating from High School in Ashtabula, Ohio, his parents pushed for him to go to college.
"They just wanted what was best for me," he said.
Wrigley left Ohio and made a new home for himself in North Carolina, attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he was taking core classes and working for United Parcel Services full time. Eventually, the stress got the best of him and he realized he had to make a change.
"It was time to join the Marines. I couldn't put it off any longer."
A choice of military occupational specialties was a no-brainer for Wrigley.
"Overall, there's nothing better than a Marine infantryman," said Wrigley with a snarl.
After a successful tour with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC, Wrigley came to Parris Island to fulfill his dream of becoming a drill instructor. After successfully graduating from Drill Instructor School, that left one short-term career goal left to accomplish.
Wrigley was already assigned to 3rd RTBn. and was surprised to find that Stoll was the Company first sergeant of Kilo Co. After a short conversation in the hallowed halls of DI School, Stoll asked if Wrigley wanted to work for him. Wrigley, who remembers the moment as if it were earlier today, said he replied, "I would be honored to work for you."
When asked why working for Stoll would be an honor, Wrigley began spewing praise of Stoll as though it were programmed into him.
"My first impression was that the man had a major problem," Wrigley said of the stocky Stoll. "He was a robot. We would come back from PT and he would be trashed out just like all of us ... dirty PT gear, sweaty, everything. In the time it took us to change over, we would turn around and he'd be standing there in the uniform of the day, sparkling boots, razor creases, screaming and ranting like a mad man. I never saw him with anything less than a perfect uniform. I always wondered how a man could be that perfect."
Perfection may be a stretch, but Stoll is the role-model type. Pulling no punches, the short in stature, bigger than life Stoll hails from Queens, New York and one sentence is enough to soak in the thick accent dripping in New Yorker. Every gesture demands attention, every glare commands respect. Wrigley's liking Stoll to a robot seems to be fitting, as the energy around him seems tangible.
Wrigley says so far working with his old drill instructor has been an outstanding experience. When asked how Stoll has changed since the recruit to drill instructor relationship, things are still the same according to Wrigley.
"He's still extremely energetic and demanding. He keeps you on your toes and expects 110 percent at all times," commented Wrigley.
Some things never change.