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    Soldiers Purify Pacific Ocean Water Directly on California Beach

    CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES

    06.16.2014

    Story by John Santos 

    361st Theater Public Affairs Support Element

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Southern California coast is known for its wide, sandy beaches, attracting visitors worldwide looking for a bit of fun in the sun. The soldiers of 971st Quartermaster Detachment from Rio Grande, Texas, and 288th Quartermaster Detachment from Victoria, Texas, also came to Southern California for its beaches, but for them, it’s all work and no play.

    These units are in Camp Pendleton, Calif., to conduct water purification and distribution operations as part of the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, making the Pacific Ocean’s salt water into potable drinking water for use by the soldiers, sailors and Marines participating in the exercise.

    QLLEX is a joint forces annual training opportunity at eight locations across the continental United States, where 64 units will deliver more than 3.25 million gallons of petroleum and produce 479,000 gallons of water. The exercise is designed to provide a realistic working environment for troops, as well as challenge and develop the battalion's staff military decision making skills. Concurrent operations are also being conducted at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Stewart, Ga., Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Joint Expeditionary Base East, Va. and Charleston, S.C., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., from June 8 through June 19.

    The soldiers of 288th are seizing this rare opportunity to test out equipment designed to purify ocean water through a process known as reverse osmosis, using specialized equipment to remove salts and other contaminants from water to make it usable for daily operations.

    “QLLEX gives our soldiers the opportunity to apply what they have learned and what they have known for so long and to actually apply it in a real-world environment,” said 2nd Lt. Kristy Rodriguez, commander of the 288th. “This gives us the opportunity to get our hands and feet dirty. In addition, this is an opportunity to come together and work off each other’s strengths and to learn from each other.”

    The unit is training on the older Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit, which can purify 3,000 gallons of water per hour, as well as the smaller and more mobile Tactical Water Purification System, which can purify 1,500 gallons of water per hour.

    In addition, the unit is also using the Ocean Intake System, which is especially designed to pump water from the water table below the sand into the purification systems. Given the ready supply of salt water present in Camp Pendleton, the exercise gives these soldiers a unique and rare opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge of liquid logistics into action.

    “Annual training is the only real opportunity we have to train soldiers on these equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Rick Gutierrez, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 288th, from Round Rock, Tex. “Back home, we turn on the machines to train our soldiers, but we can only go through the motions without the water.”

    Meanwhile, as water is purified and made ready for operational use, the soldiers of 971st load and deliver the water from Gold Beach to Site Sierra where the exercise’s main body is located. As water is purified, it is pumped into Tactical Water Delivery Systems, which can hold 20,000 gallons of water before it is pumped into trucks to be delivered back to Site Sierra.

    Due to the remote location of the beach, the delivery operations present their own issues, including driving over shifting sand, which can quickly stall the large trucks used to deliver water. However, the soldiers and Marines participating in the exercise work together to overcome these issues. “We are helping each other out to make sure that we accomplish the mission,” said Cpl. Megele Davis, Motor Vehicle Operator, 6th Engineer Support Battalion.

    For the soldiers, the beauty of Gold Beach makes for a lot of tempting opportunities to relax and enjoy the sand and the surf, but the Marines’ Range Safety Officer strictly forbids swimming in the ocean to ensure safety and to protect the natural habitat in the area. Besides, the soldiers get an opportunity to dip their toes in the water when they emplace the hose that feeds the purification systems into the ocean, said Spc. John D. Ellinger from Victoria, Tex.

    In addition, the ocean provides an opportunity to incorporate unique routines into the unit’s daily physical training, including a unit run on the sand and high knee exercises in knee-deep water, said Rodriguez.

    The operations at Gold Beach highlight the need to continuously train soldiers on the highly technical nature of liquid logistics and the professionalism of military logisticians.

    As a former infantryman, Gutierrez never thought of the importance of water and fuel to military operations. Currently as a logistician, Gutierrez learned of the challenges and technical difficulty of providing something as basic as water to the force and appreciated the importance of liquid logistics in wartime operations. “Water fuels the ultimate fighting machine,” said Gutierrez, “and everything else runs on diesel.”

    While QLLEX gives soldiers the closest possible scenario they would encounter in a deployed environment, the soldiers of 971st and 288th use their skills and knowledge to overcome obstacles and continue deliver water on time and on point.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.16.2014
    Date Posted: 06.21.2014 11:06
    Story ID: 133917
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 
    Hometown: RIO GRANDE CITY, TX, US
    Hometown: ROUND ROCK, TX, US
    Hometown: VICTORIA, TX, US

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