AL TAQADDUM AIR BASE, Iraq --
Men and women come from all over the United States to earn the title “Marine.” They come from different backgrounds and circumstances; but everyone who puts on the uniform stands ready to serve, no matter where in the world they’re called.
Lance Cpl. Christopher Treadwell, from Tucson, Arizona, is a refrigeration technician with Task Force Al Taqaddum in Iraq, who came to the Marine Corps at the age of 27 to follow in the footsteps of many of his family members.
“I had family in before me,” said Treadwell. “My grandfather was in the Marines during Korea, my uncle was in during Vietnam, another uncle was in during Desert Storm, my cousin is in right now and then there’s me.”
After completing basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, California Treadwell went on to a school specializing in refrigeration mechanics.
“The school is about three months long,” he said. “There’s a lot of mathematics with electrical work and they cover a lot of hands-on skills like brazing and how to diagnose problems.”
After completing technical school, Treadwell was assigned to the motor transport shop in Headquarters Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, at Marine Air Ground Combat Training Center, Twentynine Palms, California.
In June 2015, when the president issued orders for Marines to return to Al Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq, Treadwell was among the first Marines on deck.
Though the time between orders and execution was short, Treadwell said he and the rest of the Marines were well prepared. Before deploying, they took part in several field operations both at Camp Pendleton and the Marine Air Ground Combat Training Center, Twentynine Palms.
When the order finally came, Treadwell was more than ready to board a MV-22 Osprey and be part of the establishment of Al Taqaddum.
“It was exciting when we got to come here, but we were very busy,” said Treadwell. “For the first three weeks, myself and a generator mechanic were getting power set up for the whole base. At that time, we were putting in 12 to 18 hour days.”
Not every hour of Treadwell’s day was spent doing things that he learned in training. As a part of Task Force Al Taqaddum, Treadwell and his counterparts also had to learn each other’s jobs so they could become a more efficient team.
“Pretty much everyone that works with utilities has been cross-training and working together a lot,” said Treadwell. “I’ve done things like laying out the cables for the different power systems, and even worked on generators.”
Treadwell explained that this unique experience has taught him a lot about not only other jobs, but about what it takes to establish a base. When Treadwell first got to Al Taqaddum, they only had meals, ready to eat; and there were no water facilities.
“We are actually sleeping in cots with air conditioning now,” said Treadwell. “We started out sleeping on wood floors with no cooling at all. Now, we actually have food and bathrooms and showers.”
Despite the heat, long hours, and language barriers associated with working as an international force, Treadwell said what surprised him the most was the ability they have to work side by side with military members from other units and services.
“The way we’re able to work together is amazing,” said Treadwell. “We’re able to work with anyone out here, even if we’ve never met each other before.”
Treadwell’s experience at Al Taqaddum has reinforced the dedication and faith in the Marine Corps he enlisted with.
“I’d like to stay in at least 20 years,” he said. “Whenever I’m eligible, I want to try and become a warrant officer.”
A warrant officer is a technical master of their specific career field. Treadwell understands this, and emphasized that he has a lot of work to do as he becomes more proficient at his job.
With his eyes set on the future, Treadwell plans on having many more unique experiences like his one at Al Taqaddum, wherever the Marine Corps takes him.