FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. –
With temperatures here climbing above one-hundred degrees, most people were seeking the comfort of air-conditioned spaces or heading to the beach or swimming pool to cool down. But four Army Reserve Soldiers here weren’t hiding from the blistering conditions, instead they were busy delivering 6,000 gallons of purified water to their fellow troops to ensure they were staying hydrated and had the water the needed to conduct daily operations.
The troops are participating in a two-week Combat Support Training Exercise here designed to train and validate Army Reserve Soldiers on their specific job duties as well as their tactical field skills.
“Our mission this morning was to deliver water to a laundry unit so they can continue doing laundry and keep the showers up and running,” said Cpl. Randy Mayberry, a water treatment specialist assigned to the 651st Quartermaster Company.
In order to get water to those in need, Mayberry and her fellow Soldiers start by pumping water from a local reservoir. Then they use a reverse osmosis water purification unit that is capable of creating drinking water at a rate of 1,500 to 3,000 gallons per hour. The water is then pumped into storage bags capable of holding about 40,000 gallons of water. Once the water is deemed safe for drinking, the quartermasters load the water onto trucks and transport it to any unit that needs it.
“The trip is pretty dangerous,” said Mayberry. “The drive there is really long.” Water treatment specialists are trained to drive water deliver vehicles, but typically they rely on other units to execute the deliveries. For their missions here, they are relying entirely on their fellow Soldiers and unit assets to get the job done.
For this exercise, hazards are everywhere, and not just the heat, or potholes and sharp curves. “Enemy” forces played by fellow Soldiers have been actively targeting the Quartermasters in order to provide a more realistic training scenario.
“We've been here for four days now, and we've been hit three times,” said 1st Sgt. John Daniels, company first sergeant, assigned to the 651st Quartermaster Company based in Casper, Wyoming. “Anything can happen in a wartime scenario and you have to be prepared. Learning how to react to ambushes are good lessons to learn and it sticks with these guys. The first time we got hit out here, they were just shaken. It was like it was really happening to them.”
Daniels expressed that it’s valuable experience for his team to face these adversities and know what they did right and learn what they did wrong. “The quartermasters are really good at their jobs, but these basic warrior skills are the skills that we need to brush up on as Soldiers, because we are Soldiers first.”
The opposing forces are played by Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, an active-duty unit stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. They routinely map out the Soldiers locations, perform reconnaissance and execute missions with the goal of attacking Reserve Soldiers and their vehicles to take them out of the exercise.
“I commend the professionalism of the Army Reserve Soldiers,” said Capt. Jackson Turner, an armor officer assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. “They are all very skilled in their jobs and I’ve seen nothing but a continued climb upwards in proficiency both tactically and in their day to day duty description.”
“It's very important that our equipment and vehicles are protected so that we can continue to produce water and get it delivered where we need to,” said Mayberry. “Everyone is doing everything they can to keep us alive and moving towards completing our mission.”
“Our overall mission is to take care of Soldiers,” Daniels stated. His goals for his unit during the exercise is to put Soldiers health and well-being first, have them successfully defend their post, vehicles and equipment, and provide water to the Soldiers in the exercise who are relying on it.
The quartermaster’s continue to work together to provide water for the Soldiers over the course of the two-week exercise despite the many challenges and adversity they face.
“We are a really small group of Soldiers,” said Mayberry, who has been a part of the unit since she joined the Army Reserve in 2013. “We work together and get along like family.”