CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- At age 34, Cpl. Charlie Quelette could be a father to some of the Marines in his company; but if he let age stop him – he wouldn’t have gotten this far.
Quelette, a switch operator and wireman who hails from Millard, Neb. is one of a handful of Marines here who serve to make communication within the 2nd Marine Division a possibility.
Quelette, a 1989 graduate of Millard North Senior High School has been serving his country for the past three and a half years. Although he enlisted later in life than some of his peers, they’re among some of the best friends he’s had.
On an average day, Quelette can be seen hanging wire high up on the walls of the combat operations center, where all of the division’s battle plans are made and analyzed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. All of the telephone lines used for internal communication and outgoing lines run through his hub – the digital technical control switch.
His work also helps to boost morale here. Marines and sailors use the defense switch network to make morale calls to their families in their down time. Although at times the phone lines are a bit fuzzy, he at least ensures they’re open.
To him, maintaining this vital link for the command isn’t just a job. Being a Marine is what’s most important to him. When it came time to make a change in his life, the Marines were there to give him just the challenge he was looking for.
“I know when an opportunity approaches,” said Quelette. “When I was in high school my best friend joined up. So, it’s always been in the back of my mind. But when I was approached by a recruiter, I figured – It’s either now or never.”
Since that time, he’s had to make a lot of sacrifices in his life. Before he joined, he put in a lot of hours working on his rental properties, renovating and remodeling them. He’s been able to put his carpentry skills to work out here as well. When headquarters battalion was looking for skilled workers to help fortify some of the damaged buildings here, Quelette offered up his services.
And for a guy who swings a hammer, some might find it surprising to find out he’s also a masseur. He’s also certified in LaStone Therapy, a new type of ‘Thermotherapy’ that uses smooth, hot and cold stones to release tension and relax muscles.
“I took a year-long course at the Massage Away School of Therapy in Columbus, Ohio,” said Quelette. “I’m licensed in two states and certified nationally. I like doing my job here, but that’s where my real passion is.”
Quelette plans to start his own spa business after he returns from Iraq. The lessons he’s learned here have been invaluable toward his career development. Though he is older – with age comes wisdom. And he’s going to take that with him.
“I’ve always been patriotic,” said Quelette. “Now that I’ve been here for a few months I realize why we’re here. My time here has taught me to live my dream.”