DJIBOUTI- The Earth's surface is more than 70 percent water, and of all the water a monstrous 97 percent is salt water - leaving only three percent as freshwater, according to NOAA's National Ocean Service. For an amphibious force, like the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the chances of landing in a zone with pure drinking water is not very high, but being near water is likely.
To ensure the MEU can organically sustain itself ... it is equipped with its very own ‘water company' operated by two water purification specialists from Combat Logistics Battalion 24.
Corporal Ryan G. Schmidt, a water purification specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, tests water for impurities with an Ultrameter II water quality instrument after running it through a Lightweight Water Purification System in Djibouti, March 7, 2015. A contingent of the MEU was ashore in Djibouti conducting sustainment training to maintain proficiency at the beginning of March. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Austin A. Lewis)
“Our mission for the MEU is to get out and establish a water point where we can purify water and essentially make it potable, so that we, the Marines, can stay in the fight,” said Cpl. Ryan G. Schmidt, a water purification specialist with CLB-24.
The Marines, commonly dubbed the nickname ‘Water-Dogs,' can set up a water point and the purification systems within two hours of hitting land and can immediately have any water, whether it be in a chemical environment, saltwater, brackish water, or freshwater, safe to drink in minutes.
“We are like Bobby Boucher Jr.,” Schimdt joked, referring to the character played by Adam Sandler in the movie ‘The Waterboy.' “We get down to the field and make sure everyone is hydrated and we do it fast,” continued the Austin native.
The ability to purify water comes in two packages: heavy and light. The heavy package includes the Tactical Water Purification System, abbreviated TWPS and pronounced ‘twips'.
“With the TWPS we can purify 1,500 gallons fresh or brackish water every hour and 1,200 gallons of saltwater per hour,” said Schmidt.
To put this into perspective, every Marine rates 3 gallons of water a day, and a company is approximately 180 Marines. The TWPS can hydrate a company of Marines for almost 3 days with an hour of work in a fresh or brackish water environment.
The light package comes equipped with the Light Weight Purification System, known as the LPS and pronounced ‘lips.'
“The LPS is our lighter package and is really only used when the TWPS needs a repair. It can purify 150 gallons of fresh or brackish water every hour and 75 gallons of saltwater every hour,” said Schmidt.
The water purification systems provide the Marines with more than purified water.
“We don't only purify water for the purpose of drinking it. We also have the skillset, if needed, to set up field shower units for hygiene reasons, and the ability to do laundry with a system called Container Bath Laundry Unit. It can wash up to 100 pounds of laundry each 45 minute cycle,” added Schmidt.
The Logistics Combat Element, comprised of CLB-24, provides the MEU timely, reliable, and continuous logistical support and gives the MEU the ability to support itself for 15 days in austere expeditionary environments.
The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joey Mendez
Provided through DVIDS
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