News: Field Service Company brings showers, clean laundry to troops in Haiti
Story by Sgt. A.M. LaVey
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 259th Field Service Company, part of the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., arrived here, Feb. 10, to provide the Joint Task Force — Haiti and the 82nd Airborne Division with shower facilities and laundry services.
Two 20-person shower, laundry, and clothing repair teams, bringing with them three trailer-based Laundry Advanced Systems, have set-up shop at Logistical Support Area Sustainer and work to provide Soldiers with two very important, often overlooked services that almost seem almost luxurious in a field environment.
"Soldiers want clean clothes, they have got to get their stuff clean," said Capt. Burton Carlson, commander of the 259th. "We get it clean and return it to them in a timely manner."
The laundry systems, known as LADS, can process 400 pounds of laundry in an hour and with Carlson's two systems at full capacity, can process about 20,000 pounds of laundry per day.
Starting a LADS site in the austere environment of Haiti has been very trying for Carlson and his team.
"Here in Haiti, it has been a challenge because there were no existing facilities, but we were able to get things started and now we keep them going," said Carlson.
"Before I took command of the 259th, I did not realize the amount of resources it takes to conduct field showers and laundry," said Carlson. "If I don't have water, or fuel or some type of sump that can extract grey water, I can't do my mission. You have to always be thinking: what can I do to make this mission happen?"
"There are so many different pieces in the puzzle to make a field service company work, and we are working with the locals to make this mission a success," he said.
This deployment to Haiti has been a great teaching tool, because the 259th has a lot of newer Soldiers who have yet to deploy.
"This is an opportunity to train my Soldiers and deploy my equipment," said Sgt. 1st Class Kumlai Manigault, a platoon sergeant with the 259th. "I get to know the capabilities and limitations of our Soldiers and equipment."
"When you have a mission, especially in an austere environment such as this, you really get to know your people, their strengths and weaknesses," said Carlson. "You don't get to see it until your unit faces adversity and challenges."
Many Soldiers may not know about field service specialists or what they do here.
Soldier's laundry is collected from around Haiti and brought to LSA Sustainment. The laundry is received, inventoried and separated into mesh bags, 20 pieces of laundry per bag. The mesh bags are then coded with the Soldier's information and then sent to be processed in the LADS. Each LADS has two drums that can fit 35 bundles per drum. It takes once hour to process a load: washing, two rinse cycles, and then it is dried — all in the same drum. From the LADS it goes to another tent, where it is re-inventoried, organized back into the Soldier's laundry bag, and then it is ready to be picked up.
"I like what I do, it's fun and different," said Pvt. Elizabeth Ramirez, a shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist with the 259th.
"We do laundry and keep people clean," she said. "When you get exhausted with this heat and humidity, a fresh shower and clean laundry always makes you feel great."
"This is a good experience and we're learning to interact with the people here outside our normal work environment," Ramirez said. "Being out in the field will help prepare us for our next mission, even though this mission may only be for a short amount of time."
"We have a really good system going on, and I know this mission will go well," said Ramirez.
Even with this type of mission and the new personnel, the 259th FSC is making it happen, helping those who are helping the people of Haiti.
"We bring patience, creativity and hard work — and that is what it takes to make this mission work," said Carlson.
"This mission is doing well only because I have some tenacious Soldiers and noncommissioned officers who are the ones making it happen," said Carlson.