CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq -- As Marines at Camp Al Qa’im conduct daily operations, Lance Cpl. Jeffery Quattlebaum is up in a tower with an M240G medium machine gun watching the desert plains of the Al Anbar province.
The team leader with 2nd Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, is currently a part of the camp’s security, which is in charge of maintaining security for the entire base.
“I consider this a big part of my job as an infantryman; guarding the base is a task all in itself,” explained the Philadelphia native.
Quattlebaum knows exactly what to look for while on post and explains the importance of knowing the area and the culture.
“I mainly have to look for suspicious activity outside the base and in the area, such as someone digging, setting up improvised explosive devices or mines,” continued the 2002 University City High School graduate.
According to Quattlebaum, it can get cold and tedious during the late hours of the night, but he understands the importance of staying alert.
“It’s something you have to do. You’re guarding a lot of lives and that keeps me on edge. You have to stay alert so everyone can sleep at night knowing that you’re on post protecting them,” explained the 21-year-old.
Quattlebaum has seen a few things during his time on post he never would have back home.
“I’ve seen a few explosions off in the distance such as mines and IEDs, but nothing so far where I’ve had to open fire,” he explained.
The rifleman originally joined the Marine Corps for a challenge and to find adventure. Here in Iraq, Quattlebaum has found his fair share of both.
“Being here got me away from home for a little bit and it gave me a fresh new outlook on things. I’m getting a chance to see a different culture in the world and it’s something totally different from what I’m used to. It’s exciting,” he said.
Quattlebaum’s most important goal as a team leader for this deployment is very clear to him.
“It’s important to my family that I return home safe, but my goal is to make sure my team gets home safe to their families. It’s my job to ensure that this happens,” he explained.
According to Quattlebaum, it’s important for him to feel a sense of accomplishment when this deployment is over.
“I want us to complete our mission with a sense that we truly accomplished something and restored order and peace for the Iraqi people of this area,” he said.