FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 30, 2012) -- A U.S. Army Reserve team can officially call itself the top "Water Dawgs" in the Department of Defense.

The 753rd Quartermaster Company, based in Green Bay, Wis., beat 16 other active duty and reserve-component teams from around the country to claim the top prize in the 2012 Sgt. Maj. John C. Marigliano Award of Excellence Water Purification Rodeo that took place at Joint Expeditionary Base East (Fort Story, Va.) and Fort Lee, Va., Aug. 17-24.

Maj. Gen. John R. "Jack" O'Connor, deputy chief of staff, G-4, U.S. Army Forces Command, was on hand to present the award during an a ceremony at the Regimental Club Friday. He was accompanied by Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham and Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims, Quartermaster School commandant and regimental CSM, respectively.

Staff Sgt. Jason Parmer, 753rd QM Co. noncommissioned officer in charge, said he thought his team was among the top three competitively, especially during the second phase events held at Fort Lee. Still, he said he was flabbergasted the moment the 753rd were declared the winners.

"It was surreal," he said. "It was really, really, really tough to take in. I did tear up a bit."

Parmer added that fist pumps and back slaps followed as team members walked up to the center of the club room for the trophy presentation.

"It was awesome," he said.

The 14th QM Co. of Greensburg, Pa., captured second place and a team from the 10th Special Forces Group of Fort Carson, Colo., finished third.

Seventeen, four-Soldier teams took part in the 10th water purification event called the ROWPU (Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit) Rodeo. It was conceived in 1997 as a way to train and educate water purification specialists as well as to foster confidence and camaraderie in the water treatment community. Units from the Marine Corps, U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard have competed in past events.

The 573rd team shared in that camaraderie and competitive spirit for the first time last year.

Parmer said it benefited considerably from the experience, learning to better work as a team in addition developing individual skills.

"Each Soldier brought a particular specialty to the table, and we utilized those strengths," he said.

During the first phase of the rodeo at Fort Story, team representatives were quizzed on their technical knowledge and teams were challenged to operate a 3K Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit by the most efficient means possible.

Parmer said he figured his team wasn't in first place after the first phase and a few events of the final phase but wasn't far behind the leaders.

"Going into the last event of the competition, we knew that in order to catch the leaders, we had to be flawless," he said.

They weren't exactly error-free but scored well enough to solidify the victory.

"We did what we had to do," he said.

The 753rd became the second U.S. Army Reserve unit in three years to win the competition. Parmer said his team's performance is further validation that Reserve units are as competitive and well-trained as active duty units.

"I think we train a little harder because we're a little bit paranoid that when we get into a serious (operational or training) environment that we might not succeed," he said. "So we're always motivated to do better, and I think it's a staple for all Reserve units to follow -- that we're not here to be pushed around; we're the real deal, and if we're challenged, we're going to bring it just like any other component."

Parmer said the 753rd team will lose two members soon, but he is looking to replace them as soon as possible in preparation for next year's competition.

"We'll look at what we already have in the unit and how Soldiers are being evaluated during [advanced individual training] to determine what we need to do to replace them," he said.

The Quartermaster School's Petroleum and Water Department hosted the Water Purification Rodeo at Fort Lee and supported it throughout. The Forces Command Training Cluster, Saltwater Annex, hosted the event at Fort Story.

Military water treatment specialists trained at Fort Lee conduct water reconnaissance, select sites, identify water sources and treatment processes, and purify water from sources using the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units during tactical and humanitarian operations.