CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. –
The Army Reserve has a long history of being a melting pot of people from not only across the country, but indeed across the entire world. Look into its ranks and one will find all types of people from various and unique cultures, religions, and traditions from every corner of the globe. Recently two Soldiers from the other side of the world joined those ranks and together they are making quite an impact with their unit and their peers.
Army Reserve Spc. Philip Arabambi and Spc. Mubarak Lamina are both water treatment specialists assigned to the 968th Quartermaster Company, based in Tustin, California. Arabambi was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, while Lamina hails from Lagos, Nigeria.
They moved to the United States several years ago to pursue their master’s degrees and were naturalized as American citizens within the last year with assistance from the Army Reserve.
Both Soldiers are currently attending annual training at the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise (QLLEX) here where they are helping their unit convert thousands of gallons of saltwater from the Pacific Ocean into potable water that units can use for drinking, washing, cleaning, and showering.
The “twins” affectionately earned their nickname from 1st Sgt. Brewster Thomas, company first sergeant, 968th QM Co., who said he gave them that nickname because they are “inseparable.”
“They go everywhere together,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to find a time when they’re not together.”
Lamina and Arabambi had already been sticking together years before either one of them considered joining the military. They were both active members of the Nigerian community in Anaheim, Calif., and have been friends for years prior to enlisting. They both had many of the same friends, and both played soccer together once a week.
Although they were close friends, and lived in the same community, they did not expect to attend basic training and advanced individual training (AIT) together or join the same Army Reserve unit, but that is precisely what happened.
Both Soldiers enlisted in the Army Reserve separately though different recruiters, picked the same military occupational specialty, and shipped to basic combat training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina together in November 2021.
Later, they attended AIT together at Fort Lee, Virginia, becoming president and vice president of their classes. Eventually earning their citizenship through their service in the Army Reserve.
The professionalism, dedication, and ingenuity they exhibited during their initial entry was immediately apparent when they joined the 968th Quartermaster Company.
“They’re constantly working,” said Capt. Thomas Higgins, commander of the 968th Quartermaster Company. “I’ve never seen them not working.”
Higgins said the pair even volunteer to go into the chilly ocean water to set anchors for the water purification units, which is not a very popular job, because it’s physically demanding and involves getting soaking wet in frigid seawater.
“People notice that they’re volunteering for the hard missions,” Higgins said. “They understand the mission, and they know that everything we do is important. They are setting a great example for their peers.”
Higgins said the Soldiers bring a positive spirit and dedication to the unit that has helped build a cohesive team from the ground up. “The work we do here at the unit requires a lot of team effort,” Arabambi said. “The water purification equipment that we’re working on here is not a one-man job, it takes a whole team working together to run it.”
The Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) the Soldiers utilize, takes saltwater, pond water, or any other type of non-drinkable water, and converts it into water that is potable. It is a complex system that takes coordination and assistance from water purification specialists, maintenance teams, wastewater management teams, power generation technicians, and a host of others to produce over 3,000 gallons of potable water per hour.
In addition to their current mission of water purification, the two have an extensive academic and professional background which has helped bring flexibility and adaptability to the unit.
In the civilian world, Arabambi is an IT system engineer. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, and then moved to the States to pursue his master’s degree in computer information systems from the California University of Management and Sciences. He joined the Army Reserve because of the opportunities it provides, and because he wanted to better himself.
Lamina earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from North American University and moved to the U.S. to pursue his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Stanton University in Garden Grove, Calif. In his civilian capacity, he works as a delivery partner with Amazon, but is hoping to use his education to pursue other business opportunities for himself and to support his family.
The pair have lofty future goals and Lamina summed up their aspirations by saying, “I have wings and I want to fly.”
Some of their goals include pursuing careers in the Army Reserve as officers through Officer Candidate School (OCS). OCS provides an opportunity for enlisted Soldiers to become commissioned officers in the Army through a three-month long intensive leadership course.
“Joining the military changes the way you think, changes your mindset, and your approach to life in general,” Arabambi said. “The benefits are great, and I feel it has worked out really well for me.”