Bosnian-born Marine excels at Corporal's School
By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester
| | May 21, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Marine Corps schools are not set up to be easy, they are designed to build leaders. The Corporal's School at MCAS Beaufort is no different. It is one step in the process of building leaders, which continue to play such a vital role in the future of the Corps as we face a global war on terrorism.
For Cpl. Jasmin Kulovic, unit diary clerk at the Depot Consolidated Administration Center, it was clear what the school was - he wanted to become a leader.
The school's difficulty was something he was well aware of, yet he told everyone that he would come back first in his class. To some, he might seem boastful, but to those who know Kulovic and his background, it was just a fact. He said it was going to happen, and it did. On the morning of May 3, Kulovic was presented with a NCO sword for completing his mission and coming in first in his class.
It is not an unattainable goal, said Kulovic.
"If you go there prepared, you can't fail," he said, sounding so calm, it was as if he expected the question before it was asked. "The thing is, is that you have to follow the instructions and do what you are told to do."
The modest Kulovic does not see his accomplishments as something that he did on his own, rather something that he was willed to do through a good support system of family and friends.
"Everything that I have accomplished is their result," he said. "They are the ones who believed in me and pushed me. If not for them I probably wouldn't be where I am right now. No matter how good you are, you have to have somebody behind you, who trusts you and who believes in you."
Upon arrival at Corporal's School, Kulovic found that he was already a step ahead of the rest in his class.
"He was always the type of Marine to go get it," said Sgt. Robert Howard, Corporal's School instructor advisor. "He stood out on his own. He always strove for excellence. When it came time for inspections, he was already ready, prior to the inspection."
According to Howard, that is not a common occurrence among personnel attending the school.
"Most outstanding Marines take pride in how they carry themselves, so they stand out regardless," said Howard, who used the term, "4.9, 4.9 Marine" when speaking of Kulovic, referring to near-perfect proficiency and conduct marks.
That ideal Marine mentality is something that Kulovic had when he came to Parris Island, and through the steps taken before Corporal's School, he retained that drive to be the best.
"I started preparing, both physically and mentally, about a month before I went to the school," he said. "I knew that I would need all of my uniforms and I would need to know the way they needed to be marked and ironed. So, I got all of my stuff ready before I went. I knew what to expect, and pretty much knew how the school ran, so I just needed to pay attention."
As an example of his dedication to be the best, Kulovic used his preparation going into the school to create extra time to study. There were three tests that the students had to take and Kulovic did well on all three.
"I think we tend to overuse the word 'outstanding' when describing Marines," said Master Sgt. Scott A. Askeland, RTR personnel/administration chief. "In Corporal Kulovic's case, it's definitely justified. Ever since he reported to Parris Island for duty with DCAC, it was evident he was a cut above his contemporaries. It was proven by his maturity, work ethic and his ability to grasp all facets of reporting unit administration quickly and efficiently."
No one ever doubted his ability to come back from the school having achieved his goal.
"It was no surprise," said Staff Sgt. Veronica Sanchez, DCAC administrative chief. "If he sets his mind to do something, he always does what he set out to do. He has always been that kind of worker whether it be at work or in his off-duty education."
Sanchez attributes much of his motivation to his Bosnian culture.
"He and his wife are the same way. They set their mind out to do one thing then they do just that," said Sanchez. "That's the way the were brought up. They were going to succeed no matter what."
While some come into the Marine Corps strong in body and mind, not many come prepared with the same kind of experience as Kulovic.
"I am originally from Bosnia," he said. "I lived there for 19 years and came to America in 1998."
Askeland sees much of the motivation to succeed deriving from the same places that Sanchez attributes them to.
"I think much of his inner drive comes from his background as a Bosnian," said Askeland. "I believe having grown up in that turbulent environment made him appreciate the freedoms and potential future he had when he immigrated to the United States. Most Americans take for granted what we enjoy here; Corporal Kulovic has never made that mistake."
His father was in the Bosnian military and his family lived there during much conflict. Kulovic came of age during wartime and he has not forgotten what he learned.
"I was 14 years old when the war started and 18 when it was done," said Kulovic. "So, I can definitely tell you that it is better to sweat in peace than to bleed in war."
After having survived the war, his family moved to the United States where he lived with them for the next five years before joining the Marine Corps.
"I am pretty close with my family," he said. "We see each other at least once a month. Where I lived before I came to the United States, we where in a war for a long time and I would hardly see my dad and my mom. Just being in a war environment, it is all different. Since we came to America, I have tried to stay close with them. I try to spend as much time with them as I can to catch up on what I lost when I was a kid."
With the motivation of a renewed family bond and values instilled in him through his experiences, he set out to begin his career in the Marine Corps.
"My father was in the military and I just wanted to follow his footsteps," he said.