Though water is an essential element in a majority of day to day functions, it's often a substance taken for granted in the civilian world. Soldiers, however, can fully appreciate water's uses and abundance (or lack thereof) while on deployment. This is why water purification units are important to the mission.

To remain on top of the game in matters of equipment and training, members of the military water community meets yearly at the FORSCOM Logistics Training Cluster at Fort Story, Virginia, for the Sgt. Maj. John C. Marigliano Award of Excellence Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit Competition. It's known by most as the ROWPU Rodeo.

This year's grueling, three-part competition wrapped up Aug. 25. Of the six competing units (four Army, two Marine), Fort Campbell's 20th Quartermaster Support Company proved themselves the best and snagged the first place trophy.

"The competition is a tool to measure the skills and readiness of all the water treatment specialists in the military," said Capt. Jimos Reese, commander of 20th QM.

The ROWPU Rodeo was created as an event to motivate and educate the military's water community, allowing units to share training techniques and new technology.

"It's important because, wherever you deploy, you'll need water," said Reese. "When you start going into areas where there is a limited supply, having a water specialist is very important. They can pull from any source, tap into it and purify it."

The competition itself consists of three elements: a four-hour, 100 question written exam, field exercises with the 3,000 gallon ROWPU and field exercises using Tactical Water Purification Systems.

During the exercises, teams were required to unpack and set up the equipment within a two-hour timeframe. From there, the teams had a four-hour timeframe in which to operate the machines and produce potable, purified water.

"It was set up on a point system," explained Sgt. Chad Boger, who competed with the 20th QM team. "Every step is graded. If you missed a step or did something wrong, you didn't get points for it. If you didn't finish in time, you weren't awarded points. That's how they graded the operation."
When the physical and mental challenges were complete, 20th QM stood apart from the rest. Not only did the team members finish in first place, but they did so with a 93 point gap between themselves and the second place team.

"I was pretty confident in my guys," said Reese. "We'd been practicing for this competition since the beginning of June. We trained up on the exercises and exams so we'd be ready. Being acknowledged by the Quartermaster commandant felt really good, too."

"It feels great," said Boger. "I am really proud of my team and of all the Soldiers that went out there with us. They worked really hard, and they were motivated and focused on bringing home this trophy. Everybody is happy."

Too busy to revel in victory, the 20th QM unit is working hard to put together a formidable team for next year's ROWPU rodeo.

"I think we've got a good chance of winning next year, too," said Reese.