San Diego's top DI earns Corps' '04 honors
By Sgt. Len Langston
| | November 05, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Coming to the drill field, Staff Sgt. Jean-Yonel Ulceus brought with him a vision: Set a standard that other drill instructors may follow.
Now every DI in the Marine Corps can see the bar.
The Company A DI's standard recently earned him Drill Instructor of the Year. Ulceus beat out the nominee from MCRD Parris Island, S.C., after Marine Corps officials conducted the drill instructor of the year board Monday at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
Humble about his accomplishments, Ulceus said, "It is an honor, but I can't lose sight of what got me here. I'm blessed for being surrounded by great people. You have no choice but to elevate your own style."
Ulceus said DIs must have a passion for what they do, and he has been true to himself and has not emulated just one other person.
Becoming a beacon for others to follow started early for Ulceus, but it took a good mentor to light the way. For that, Ulceus credits the senior drill instructor from his first training cycle.
"He treated me fairly, mentored me and always carried himself in a professional manner," said Ulceus. "Now I try to relay that to my drill instructors."
That senior drill instructor, Staff Sgt. Darnell T. Richardson, now the personnel chief at the Consolidated Personnel Administration Center here, recalls Ulceus's motivation.
"He had a vision," said Richardson. "He didn't want to be a basic drill instructor."
Richardson said he was impressed by the new drill instructor.
"As an experienced drill instructor, I still learned from his work ethic and hunger for the drill field," said Richardson.
Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and later moving to Long Island, N.Y., Ulceus joined the Marine Corps when he was 19 years old. He has served for 10 years and has been married for eight. He has a son and a daughter.
Ulceus has earned several recognition awards while on the drill field: MCRD San Diego DI of the Year, Senior DI of the Quarter, DI of the Quarter, Dan Daly Award for best new DI, Gunnery Sgt. Nichols Award for most outstanding senior DI , and Band of Brothers Award for best DI team.
"I am excellent with working with other Marines and always had a good, professional working relationship with my Marines," said Ulceus.
Hard work, passion and preparation placed Ulceus above all other drill instructors, but he maintains that he is no better than the others.
His first sergeant says Ulceus is a shoe-in for becoming a chief drill instructor.
"It wasn't a hard choice to make him a senior drill instructor. Now I have no problem in making him a chief," said 1st Sgt. Carlos A. Reina, Company A. "He's an outstanding Marine."
Ulceus hopes to take his experience and become an instructor at Drill Instructor School.
"Being a Marine is accepting challenges," said Ulceus, "You have to keep the focus on training recruits and have everything else revolve around that."