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NEWS | March 16, 2016

Fresh in the field

By Staff Sgt. Nicole Dykstra 78th Training Division

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - For Soldiers participating in the 78th Training Division’s Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) “Arctic Lightning,” relying on the skills of fellow Soldiers can provide a little relief from living in the field on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for three weeks.

Members of 1008th Quartermaster Company from Granite City, Illinois, understand this all too well. These shower/laundry and clothing repair specialists provide fresh laundry for the other units participating in CSTX.

Soldiers first bring their laundry to the collection tent where it is inventoried and sorted into mesh bags by article type and numbered to the article’s owner. The mesh bags allow multiple Soldiers’ laundry to be washed simultaneously, said Sgt. Darrick Cooper, a shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist in the 1008th.

“We take the sorting and inventory part very seriously,” said Cooper. “We don’t want anything to get lost or accidentally returned to the wrong Soldier.”

Once the clothing is sorted, the bags are loaded into one of the large metal drums in the Laundry Advanced System (LADS), a generator-powered, mobile laundry facility. Fuel for the system is provided by the 957th Quartermaster Company, just one of many examples of units providing real-world support to other Soldiers participating in CSTX. Each load can accommodate approximately 25 bags of laundry.

The LADS has a 3,000-gallon water tank, which can last 4-5 days, said Pvt. Ray Islas, a shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist in the 1008th. The water is cycled from the tank and heated. Once the cycle is complete, the water is distilled and unusable water is separated from the main tank. This recycling process allows the 3,000-gallon water tank to last a little longer, said Islas, since some of the wash water is cleaned and reused.

Each complete cycle takes approximately 65 minutes, and the wash, rinse, and dry cycles take place in the same drum. A touchscreen display allows operators to track the progress of the cycle of time remaining, fuel and water status, and temperature.

Once the cycle is complete, members of the 1008th remove the articles from the mesh laundry bags and fold and consolidate all items so when Soldiers return for their laundry, everything is together and folded.

With only three Shower, Laundry, Clothing Repair (SLCR) teams at CSTX, members of the 1008th travel to sites without laundry facilities and collect laundry, so no units go without support, said Spc. Devon Branscumb, a shower/laundry and clothing repair specialist in the 1008th.

“We know clean laundry makes it a little easier to be here,” he said. “We are happy if we can improve morale for the other Soldiers here with us.”