PATROL BASE ALCATRAZ, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Down by the “Mini Helmand River,” as local residents call it, Marines maneuver through the night to conduct surveillance. They are led by a Reconnaissance Marine who fearlessly clears a path for his fellow brothers in arms.
Buffalo, N.Y., native Cpl. Jebediah Stevens serves as a point man with B Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.
As a recon Marine, Stevens has always been taught to “paint the picture.” The mission is to obtain information by observing the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy, or geographic characteristics of a particular area.
But for Stevens, It doesn’t just end there. As a point man, he carefully chooses and maps out the route to any mission.
“My job is to come up with a route where our position won’t get compromised,” explained the 2008 graduate of Orchard Park High School. “I’ve got to research all the geography and intelligence on the areas we patrol to make sure I choose the right path.”
The 22-year-old must take into consideration all the farmlands, compounds, bridges, dirt roads, dry riverbeds, and rivers in the area. Then he adds in the time of day and how the Marines will be traveling, as well as where exactly they need to go.
Stevens said it’s a time-consuming job, but if he doesn’t do it, it puts the lives of his fellow Marines at risk … a risk that may cost Marines their lives.
Stevens added he takes the job very seriously for that exact reason. Once he maps out the proposed route, his team rehearses the order in which it will patrol, and they go over the route several times. During mission briefs, they go over the route he mapped out to ensure everyone on the team knows where he’s going and what to expect.
“We do it so it’s no surprise when we’re actually out there. Obstacles should come as no surprise when we reach them,” said Sgt. Matthew Powell, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., and an assistant team leader with the unit. “(Stevens) picks the routes and navigates them when we’re on patrol. Being at the front of the (formation) makes his job one of the most dangerous ones to do, and he does it without any complaints. He’s just a really good Marine and one of my best friends on the team.”
Stevens’ hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. His superiors submitted him for a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for superior dedication to his duties and his selfless acts under enemy fire.
On January 25, 2011, Stevens took control of an M-249 squad automatic weapon and began suppressing an enemy sniper position firing on two of his Marines, according to witness’s statements. His keen observation and accurate fire allowed his Marines to move to a safe area and allowed his team to successfully employ a Guided Bomb Unit, or laser-guided bomb, toward the enemy position resulting in two confirmed enemy casualties.
“Corporal Stevens’ performance during this deployment has been outstanding. He takes ownership of all tasks assigned to him and strives for nothing short of excellence on a daily basis,” said his platoon commander, 1st Lt. Thomas Wallin from Mountain Lakes, N.J. “He has continued this trend since the work-up period, as he is among the most proficient Reconnaissance Marines in his peer group.”
Stevens’ exceptional route planning played a crucial role in the successful execution of more than 118 mounted and dismounted combat patrols in the span of 120 days. He said he does the best he can because he loves his job.
“It had really been my dream for as long as I can remember to be in the Marine Corps … and it is everything I expected and more,” explained Stevens. “Overall I’m having a blast. I love my job, and I love what we’re doing.”
Editor’s note: The battalion is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward). The division serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan national security forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations to secure the Afghan people, defeat insurgent forces, and enable ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.