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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2018

Texas Army Reserve unit takes to bay, performs water operations training

By Quentin Johnson Corpus Christi Army Depot

Once again, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers took to the Corpus Christi Bay to conduct training for real-world water operations early September 2018.

More than 40 Soldiers with the 288th Quartermaster Company, 373rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Victoria, Texas, set their sights on Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (NASCC) to conduct a water operations field training exercise, September 7-9, just as they did the year prior.

In 2017, the 288th QM Co. trained on freshwater purification operations around the Corpus Christi Army Depot area of operations to ensure clean, or potable, water could be utilized in the event the city water became unsafe as it did three times in 2016.

This year, the 288th QM Co. elevated its training to saltwater purification operations off the Corpus Christi Bay on NASCC, and included additional skill tasks, said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Ayala, platoon sergeant, 288th QM Co. and a Victoria native.

Various training took place during the three days including setup of the Army’s Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU), Load Handling System Compatible Water Tank Rack (Hippo), water distribution operations, drivers training, and several first aid instructional classes, added Ayala.

Ayala commented on the training as vital, not just to the unit readiness and mission requirements but to real-world situations both nationally and globally. 

“Our primary training is for overseas operations, but we can deploy to help produce or sustain water operations during local emergencies,” said Ayala.

With only a handful of qualified operators certified to run the equipment, Ayala said it was important for them to train Soldiers new to the unit, to the water purification field, and those who are waiting to go through the Army’s 92W – water treatment specialist – course.

“With new personnel in unit, this was a chance to introduce them to the field they will be working in after completing the (92W) course,” said Ayala.

Most of the experienced Soldiers helped curtail any issues to ensure the less experienced Soldiers were successful, said Ayala. 

“There was a lot of trial and error. The (less experienced) had to read through the technical manuals a lot, sometimes wired the generator wrong,” said Ayala, “but by the end of the exercise, they were finally grasping it all. 

For Spc. Doug Howell, a current student at Texas A&M, College Station, and an Army 12N – heavy equipment operator, it was a very rewarding training experience for him as he prepares to leave for the 92W course within the next year.

“The training was very successful. The noncommissioned officers knew a lot about the equipment, and watching them troubleshoot the equipment was pretty remarkable,” said Howell, a Port Lavaca native. “I learned a lot just by watching them.”

Howell said the instruction methods were phenomenal and made learning the purification process easier.

“(The instruction) was definitely instruction focused and interpersonal … making sure junior enlisted or the less knowledgeable knew how to operate the equipment,” added Howell.

Overall, the exercise went well, and the knowledge Howell took away from it will help prepare him to succeed when he heads to the Army school next year, he said. 
Ayala said the unit will probably be back for future exercises that include additional water treatment equipment and Soldiers’ tasks.