AR RAMADI, Iraq -- The streets here are a far cry from the corner of 8th and I streets in Washington, D.C., and yet for an infantryman who joined the Marine Corps to travel the world and do his part in the War on Terrorism, it is the only place he wants to be.
Corporal Jared St. Clair, an infantryman with 4th Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, has finally made it to Iraq and is making the most of his opportunity. He’s serving in the city that many experts and officials are calling the most important city in the war and he has been here for both the constitutional referendum and the first parliamentary election.
St. Clair’s previous assignment at Headquarters Marine Corps is prestigious, but not what the 22-year-old joined the Marine Corps to do.
“I was anxious to come here, I wanted to come to Iraq and do my part,” said the Cochese, Ariz. native. “It’s a whole different world here in Iraq though. People’s mentalities are different. At 8th and I, you get liberty everyday after work, where now we look forward to those couple days off we can rest and call home.”
The work here is nonstop: patrols, missions, maintenance, movements and training. However, it’s been worth it just for the experiences and knowledge he will be able to take home from this deployment.
“In the short time we’ve had, I’ve made leaps and bounds from what I knew and did before I got here,” he said. “We work hard but it’s necessary in order to do the job here.”
Relearning the skills necessary in the often dangerous urban terrain that dominates the battalion’s area of responsibility was a daunting task at first. However, his training soon came back to him and he made the transition easily.
“Garrison posts like 8th and I don’t do field training like we do in California,” he said. “We’re always dressed up in our blues and we practiced a lot of drill and those sorts of things. Now, we do a lot more field training, firing weapons and practicing movements –the things we need to know here. Now the only uniform we wear is our cammies.”
Although a world apart in terms of responsibilities and experiences, St. Clair is excited to be deployed, especially to such an important city.
“I am proud to say I was at 8th and I. I stood post during President Reagan’s funeral, which was pretty prestigious,” he said. “However, this is where I wanted to be. (Improvised explosive devices) are still going off and we are still finding (weapons) caches, so the work here isn’t done yet. The Iraqi Army is progressing and we are helping train them. So that is another thing we are doing to help.
“I am glad I’m here and making a difference.”