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Hometown heroes train at McCrady

Hometown heroes train at McCrady

Story by Alexandra Shea on 08/09/2019

Each summer McCrady Training Center receives hundreds of Reserve Soldiers who conduct annual training and real-world missions to ensure the Reserve fighting force is ready to step into mobilization roles alongside their active-duty counterparts. For one unit, logistical support is a walk in the park.

Members of the 973rd Quartermaster Company from Ceiba, Puerto Rico, were mobilized along with their heavy equipment to provide logistical support to the various units currently training on McCrady. For two weeks, the Soldiers provided fuel and water to sustain more than 400 Soldiers actively training in the field.

“They provided water and distribution to the main site for over 400 Soldiers,” said Capt. Stephanie Rawlings, company commander. “We provided water for them to shower, cook and hydrate.”

The teams set up their operational command center adjacent to a small lake. There, the Soldiers downloaded a 1500 Tactical Water Purification System, or TWPS, and began setting the system up. Drawing water from the lake, the Soldiers transformed the murky water into clean, purified water. After passing the rigorous testing by Spc. Joan Zambrana, the unit’s preventative medicine specialist, the water was distributed to the main site where training Soldiers were operating.

“I checked the water for bacteria, PH, chlorine and total dissolve solutes,” Zambrana said. “I have to make sure the water is safe. If I don’t, we all get sick.”

The 973rd Quartermaster’s 92W Water Treatment Specialists, also known as “Water Dogs,” knows a thing or two about water. The unit was activated for a real-world mission in their local community September 2017 as category 5 Hurricane Maria blasted itself across the island leaving thousands of residents without water and electricity.

While military natural disaster support is typically provided by National Guard units, the devastation was so great the 193rd Quartermaster Company was called to action. The unit was able to quickly mobilize two of their TWPS to provide safe, clean drinking water to the island.

“We purified around 1.5 million gallons of water for that mission,” said Spc. Richardo Lamosa. “We were activated for around two months. It was incredible. It felt amazing helping our people with water.”

The “Water Dogs” use a calculated method for running the TWPS to produce about three gallons of water per Soldier per day. The systems ran for 20 hours-a-day to provide the clean water during the hurricane mission. During their annual training at McCrady, the TWPS only needed to be operated for several hours a day to support the main site operations.

When the mission to create a safe water supply was complete, the Soldiers began the task of cleaning and storing their equipment. The final week of their annual training is dedicated to transporting their equipment for shipment back to their home station. Once there they will reset their equipment in preparation for future mobilizations or special circumstances such as another hurricane.

As Reserve Soldiers, they will return to their daily jobs and studies if they are students, but will also be returning to an island embroiled in political unrest. Recent media coverage depicts an island in protest over local government leaders and the decisions they have made in regards to the island’s people. For most people, leaving home during a time such as this can be stressful.

“I am so proud of these guys. They live the Army Values,” Rawlings said. “Mission first and they have done that. Just watching them I wouldn’t be able to tell what’s going on back home.”

The tight knit unit has been able to communicate with their Families back home during the annual training mission and lean on one another in times of need.

“I’ve been with this unit for four years,” Zambrana said. “I love this unit. They are my Family.”

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