473rd QM 'cleans up' division
June 25, 2009
<b>Fort Stewart, Ga.</b>- When most Soldiers prepare for deployment, weapons training, medical exams and equipment maintenance are some of the most obvious preparations. However, more personal needs like bath and laundry facilities are seldom at the top of the list.
This is where units like the 473rd Quartermaster Company, 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division steps in. Aside from providing Soldier-run shower tents, they also provide laundry support with a heavy duty washing and drying system called a Laundry Advanced Dryer System, also known as LADS.
The unit is fairly new to the division, having joined 3rd Sustainment Brigade in 2006. Since that time, the word has slowly spread that the division now has organic bath and laundry assets.
"We've been on a few missions in the last couple of months to get our names out there," said Sgt. Christa Page, laundry facility noncommissioned officer in charge at the Division Mission Readiness Exercise. "Our name is out there, and people know who we are."
Currently the 473rd is providing both shower and laundry support to the 3rd ID's MRX, while concurrently supporting the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team's field exercise.
"I think it's a good idea," said Spc. Curtis Jackson, a laundry shower textile specialist with the 473rd. "It's good training for us because we don't get to do this a lot, and being here in the field, it helps them out because people need their laundry done. Nobody wants to go around dirty every day."
For Staff Sgt. James Menard, the laundry noncommissioned in charge at the 41st IBCT area, training is one of the most important aspects about the mission. Aside from offering laundry support, he's also taken the opportunity to ensure his Soldiers are cross-trained on their various missions. He's also provided Warrior Tasks and Battle Drill and physical training opportunities for his Soldiers.
"I'm learning a lot," said Pfc. Antoinette Reddix, a laundry shower textile specialist on her second field mission with the 473rd. "Sometimes it's better to get away from the base for awhile. We get to come out here and learn all of this. Here, we get to focus on our MOS."
This easy access to laundry and shower facilities is a big advantage for Soldiers in the field, according to Sgt. Page.
"It's very important," she said, "especially with rapid deployment downrange, a lot of places in Iraq and Afghanistan don't have facilities where you can have showers, so it's good support for the people who are in the field so they can take a shower and get their laundry cleaned."
This advantage hasn't been lost on Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Raymond Patron, a paralegal with Headquarters, Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion.
"In forward deployment, it's a big plus to have someone taking care of your laundry," Staff Sgt. Patron said. "It's one less thing you've got to worry about, and one less thing I've got to worry about here."
Another advantage is one-day service. Soldiers at the MRX who use the laundry service can drop off their clothes in the morning and have them back by the afternoon.
"A lot of people were waiting until (a pause in the exercise) to do their laundry, but I did laundry in the field in Kandahar, so I understand their function," Patron said. "So I'm letting these Soldiers get some training and utilizing all of the services that we have out here. At the same time, I'm getting my laundry done for free."
Soldier support such as this may be the biggest advantage of them all.
"The Soldiers are working very well together," Staff Sgt. Menard said. "We've had a lot of support from the IBCT in ensuring that we maximize their time."
"It's a big morale builder for our Soldiers," Sgt. Page added. "When somebody uses these showers and says 'good job,' that makes it seem like all the work was well worth it."