SDI's sense of humor is no laughing matter
Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification Number: 200442165627
Story by Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(April 2, 2004) -- The American poet Bessie Stanley wrote "to laugh much and to laugh often" is an indicator of success.

If that is the case, Company G drill instructor Staff Sgt. Philip J. Kulczewski, is very successful. Using humor as a tool to achieve success in life and on the drill field has helped him reach many goals.

However, taking the path of the funnyman has caused him some problems in the past. Kulczewski grew up in St. Clare, Mich., on the icy, western edge of Lake Huron.

"Growing up, I was a bit immature," said Kulczewski. "My two jobs at St. Clare High School were football team captain and class clown. I needed to find some discipline."

Between football practice and making spitballs, Kulczewski said he found time to visit a Marine recruiter.

"I figured the best way to get some (discipline) was to join the Marines," said Kulczewski. "It was something about their mystique that told me you have to be disciplined to be one of them."

Kulczewski was right. He found discipline and learned to use his sense of humor in ways he never imagined.

While undergoing recruit training, he learned his personality and ability to make people laugh had a profound effect on others.

"It's amazing how a sense of humor can turn around someone's outlook," said Kulczewski. "In boot camp, I realized that I could use my talent to increase the morale of the other recruits in my platoon. I also realized there was a time and a place to be funny."

Nowadays, Kulczewski uses what he learned to diffuse the high-stress situations he and his fellow drill instructors face on the drill field. As Platoon 2158's senior drill instructor, Kulczewski is mainly responsible for supervising and training the drill instructors under his charge. He enthusiastically accepts this responsibility and works to keep their spirits high.

"Around the hats, I use my sense of humor to take the edge off," said Kulczewski. "They work extremely hard. I know they take their job seriously, but I also believe in keeping things in perspective. That is how I use my sense of humor."

He is the company funnyman, according to several of his fellow drill instructors.

"He is able to boost morale through his personality and ability to make people laugh," said Gunnery Sgt. Kurt M. Martinez, series gunnery sergeant, Co. G.

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you'll go insane," said Kulczweski. "Letting every little thing get to you will drag you down. I try to look out for the hats any way I can. If that means telling a good joke every now and then, so be it."

Although Kuczweski has expressed interest in making people laugh as a professional comedian, he has already begun receiving dividends on the drill field for his talents and professionalism. Many of his superiors have noticed more than just his ability to crack jokes. He was meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant for his tireless efforts training recruits and mentoring drill instructors.

Although, Kulczewski may be known as the funnyman of Co. G, fate showed him it has a sense of humor as well.

Last September at a bar in Oceanside, Calif., Kulczewski had a run in with the drill instructor he may never forget.

"I like drill instructors so much I decided to marry one," said Kulczewski recalling the magical night in Oceanside.

Kulczewski is engaged to Sgt. Lisa Dunn, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Dunn is a former drill instructor from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

"It was love at first sight," said Dunn. "He has an outstanding sense of humor. It is definitely one of the many attributes I love about him."

Having been a drill instructor, Dunn is aware of her fiancÚ's challenges, needs and inspirations during his current assignment.

"Our life is pretty uncomplicated," said Dunn, considering the demands training recruits places on a relationship. "I understand because I have been there. I just do what I can to support him. If it means bringing him and the drill instructors breakfast at 3:30 a.m. during the Crucible, then that's what it means."

To Kulczewski, it means a full stomach and a whole lot more. He knows how fortunate he is having someone who understands.

"I know that a lot of wives and girlfriends don't understand why their husband or boyfriend is working 20-hour days," said Kulczewski. "I don't have that problem because she knows exactly why I'm working long hours. She knows what it takes to make Marines."

According to Kulczewski, it takes hard work and dedication to make Marines, but he also said the rewards are worth the work.

Kulzewski's attitude on training Marines and living life can be related to the final words in Stanley's poem on success. The poem states, "to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Staff Sgt. Philip J. Kulczewski, senior drill instructor, P latoon 2158, claims his sense of humor is the key to his success on the drill field and in life. Photo by: Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint