CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq -- When you enter Regimental Combat Team-2’s Camp Ripper one thing is for sure; there will be Marines waiting at the gate to stop you before you enter.
One of those Marines is Cpl. Donald L. Eason, 32, a machine gunner with RCT-2 from Chesapeake, Va.
Eason, a 1991 Booker T. Washington High School graduate, joined the Marine Corps in 1996 as a motor transport operator and was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
After completing a successful enlistment in 2001, Eason decided to “call it quits” and start his civilian life. That turned out to be harder than he thought.
“The transition from military life to civilian life is more difficult than people think,” Eason explained. “I was so used to the fast-paced lifestyle of the Corps that it was difficult for me to slow down.”
Eason worked for a construction company until April 11, 2003, when he decided he needed to speed up his life again.
He reenlisted in the Marine Corps to become an infantry machine gunner on the day of his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Veronica, who is back home in Portsmouth, Va., waiting for the end of her husband’s deployment.
“I missed the camaraderie that the Corps offers and I’m used to a certain tempo that only the Marine Corps can offer me,” Eason said.
Eason started his second enlistment as a recruiter at the Chesapeake recruiting office, until he returned to Lejeune to serve with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment which eventually brought him to Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team-2.
“I was going to deploy with the battalion, but my daughter was sick so my command moved me to the regiment and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
Eason made his first deployment to Iraq with the regiment in February 2005 and was assigned to the Camp Ripper guard force, where he has made an impact.
“I think I’ve made a positive impact, reinforcing the rules and regulations of the camp and maintaining its safety,” he said.
Since the start of his deployment, Eason received two outstanding performance citations, one for stopping an attempted robbery at the camp and one for stopping an unauthorized third-country national who had an invalid identification card.
Eason’s considered by his superiors to be “a Marine to emulate” according to the citations.
Though he is on a one year deployment, he will be receiving a period of rest and relaxation and be able to return home to an anxious family.
“I’m going to go home to my family for “R and R.’ It’s hard on them; me being out here for this long. Especially on my four daughters,” Eason said.
As Eason’s “R and R” approaches he describes his deployment to be “getting easier the closer it gets.”
“I just continue to do my job out here until I can get home to them for a while. I am looking forward to spending time with them before I return here,” Eason explained.
As his deployment nears its half-way point Eason continues to stay motivated to excel at what he does.
“I know that I have some time left on this deployment, but I remember that this is the life that I wanted, and I continue to push myself to succeed out here,” Eason said.