There exists solely one quartermaster laundry throughout the peninsula, located in Yongsan. This particular laundry covers all U.S installations in all areas in Korea, including the two air bases in Suwon and Osan. Meanwhile, remote camps in Area IV send their laundry to Camp Humphreys, which is then picked up by the quartermaster in Yongsan.
As soon staff report to work at 8 a.m., the quartermaster sends different trucks to Area I, II, and III, said Chang Kyong-hun, Quartermaster laundry manager. "We have small quartermaster divisions in each area where laundries are piled up and readied to be sent to Yongsan. During this process, there is no need to worry about laundries getting all mixed up. Each laundry pick-up is separated by individual, camps and areas with different nets."
The quartermaster laundry accepts a variety of washings from simple to cumbersome pieces. Simple laundry includes pillow cases, blankets, seats, and aprons, whereas cumbersome laundry covers tents, contaminated clothes, and sleeping bags. Before items are washed, they are separated in terms of their textile and fabric to avoid any damage. Moreover, washings are categorized by color to preserve the original color. Once washed, laundered bags are sent back to each area within three days. Laundry from hospitals, however, is secured within 24hours.
Commercial washing machines and drying machines are used to accommodate the large amount of laundry requested every day through the quartermaster. An approximate 25,000 laundry requests are processed per month, and the number goes up to 30,000 during a military exercise. In light of this, washing machines manage up to 600 pounds of laundry per round, and drying machines 300 pounds per round.
"The washers and dryers we use are totally different from the ordinary ones. They are industrial laundry equipment made from G.A. Braun and UNIMAC. The equipment is very expensive and can cost up to $100,000 per machine," said Chang.
For contaminated laundry in particular, there is a special machine that efficiently sterilizes the wash.
"Clothes used in hospitals have pathogenic bacterium, germs, blood and all sorts of contaminated particles," said Chang. "In addition to hospital laundry, uniforms worn near weapons can also have chemical material on them. This special washing machine prevents the contaminated washings to be mixed with other laundry and sterilizes them with advanced neutralizing technology, guaranteeing customer safety and hygiene."
During the recent U.S Army and Republic of Korea Army combined military exercise, many Soldiers stayed in tent city, located in Camp Coiner. The quartermaster provides free laundry service to the augmentees. Soldiers who have access to the barracks laundry facility cannot utilize the quartermaster laundry unless they need sleeping bags, tents, or blankets to be cleaned.
Among the 51 staff members in the quartermaster laundry, three are mechanics. Their job is to lubricate and continuously adjust the belts of the machines to prevention malfunction. Most importantly, they also ensure hygiene and cleanliness by vacuuming and sanitizing the filters of all the machines every day.
Chang takes great pride in his part in supporting the U.S Army even though his job is not often recognized. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all soldiers in the Korean peninsula for their hard work. I will keep supporting them!" he said.