News: Tennessee Guard unit delivers water on Q-West
Story by Sgt. Matthew Cooley
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — While walking around Q-West, it's likely that one might come across a pallet of water near a living area, place of work, or elsewhere.
The Soldiers of the 1174th Transportation Company, 395th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, deliver an average of more than 30,000 bottles of water weekly all over the base here.
The water is pumped in from the Tigris River by an Iraqi civilian company to a Q-West water purification facility. An American civilian contractor facility then bottles and palletizes the water before sending it to a sustenance storage facility for delivery by 1174th.
Sgt. Larry Turnage, an 1174th truck driver and Memphis, Tenn., native, said that despite rumors of water shortages in the past, no one has ever ordered him to deliver fewer bottles to the troops and civilians here.
"We've been steady rolling," Turnage said, grinning.
Turnage and Spc. Calvin Wilhite, an 1174th wheeled vehicle mechanic also from Memphis, Tenn., drive the large flatbed trucks used to deliver the water.
"Everybody needs water," Wilhite said.
"Who else is going to load it? [Our job] is very important."
Raymond Roehr, a civilian contractor equipment operator and Pasadena, Texas, native drives the 8,000 pound forklift that takes the water bottle pallets off of the trucks and places them on the ground near containerized housing units and work areas.
"You've got a responsibility there — somebody has to do it," Roehr, a former Sailor and Soldier, said.
Delivering water around Q-West is a small part of the 1174th's mission, Turnage explained.
This transportation company transports a wide variety of equipment and supplies across Multinational Division — North, the 15th Sust. Bde. "Wagonmasters" area of operations, Turnage said.
Turnage and Wilhite are on the company's load team which prepares trucks for their next mission and allows drivers to get needed rest after long hours on the road and back-to-back or "turn and burn" missions, Turnage said.
Turnage noted that his team no longer has days off since the number of driving missions increased.
"[The] morale of the guys is high — strong," he said.
Wilhite felt that it was all a part of the job.
He shrugged and said, "I'm just being a Soldier."