By: Mike Reistetter
When it is the end of the semester and you are torn up about cramming in one final run-through of your notes for your final exam on Monday, it is natural to jump at the text message you receive from your buddy across campus: “Wanna watch ‘Full Metal Jacket?’”
Not only does your affinity for all things Kubrick immediately distract yourself from your studies. But watching this movie will also help prevent you from over-preparing. To be entertained by the exploits of those innocent teenagers as they are psychologically tormented by the R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant character and the overall prospect of war, will remind you that despite the enormity of stresses you have been experiencing, you may have it better off than some others your age.
However, those like Mateusz “Matt” Prusaczyk, your friend who asked you there that night in the first place, can now argue the contrary, as he is one who has proudly traded in his text book and backpack for weaponry and camouflage.
“I’ve always wanted to serve since I was younger,” said now Lance Corporal Prusaczyk, a former Mount Saint Mary student who left the college after his sophomore year to join the United States Marine Corps.
The 21-year-old, Poland-born Prusaczyk was the definition of a scholar athlete at MSMC. A 2013 graduate of Copiague High School, Prusacyzk originally had his heart set on joining the Track and Field team at MSMC, immediately becoming the Knights’ primary long jumper, with a personal best leap of 5.38 meters in January of 2015.
In spite of his accomplishments, Prusaczyk knew he sought more gratification out of his young adult life before it was too late.
“It was definitely something I was back and forth on for a while. The biggest factor for me (in joining the Marines) was the fact that I didn’t feel like school was right for me anymore, and I wanted to do something adventurous and new.”
Now physically stationed on the West Coast in California, Prusaczyk expressed comfort with his emotional station in life, comparing his current responsibilities to his “extreme” experience at Boot Camp on Parris Island in South Carolina.
“If I had to do it (Boot Camp) again, I would 100%,” Prusaczyk reiterated. “There’s nothing like the feeling of being done with it and looking back and seeing where all the work you put in got you.”
Prusaczyk credits The Mount with helping him mature and learn how to take care of himself. While he confirmed the expected sense of homesickness those enlisted in the armed forces possess when separated from their family for extended periods of time, he insisted that when serving your country, the feeling of family is never completely void.
“The best part about being a Marine is the camaraderie,” said Prusaczyk. “We’re all a huge family even though some of us only have known each other a limited amount of time. You already have a connection, and you take care of each other no matter what.”
Although Prusaczyk does not regret putting his academic career on hold, he admits he does miss the friends he made at The Mount. Additionally, he plans to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the U.S. Marines, who upon his eventual discharge will cover the financial requirements needed for him to complete his degree in Business.
“I do see myself continuing my education,” Prusaczyk revealed, also maintaining that the Marine Corps has taught him real life skills “you can’t learn from a traditional classroom.”
On a lasting note, Prusaczyk advised those who reach the same crossroads he once did that are seriously contemplating enlisting to “just go for it.”
“It’s a rewarding experience, and even if you just stay in for four years and get out, you’ll always be able to say that you served your country. And to me, I think that’s awesome,” Prusaczyk noted. “You’ll meet a lot of great people and learn of lot of things that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.”
While I continue to keep in touch with Prusaczyk, and welcome “war movie” recommendations from him as I did when we both attended The Mount together, it would be foolish of me to fail to recognize—that until those like myself, who appreciate the war genre of cinema, have actually seen what Prusaczyk has seen or potentially will see down the line, they are disqualified to offer any judgment about the realistic portrayal of such events on film.
We at The Mount can only continually wish Prusaczyk the best as he embarks further along on his desired path, both discovering and, when called to, distancing himself from “the duality of man.”