Army's shower-and-laundry unit is closing up shop in S. Korea
April 1, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. Army shower-and-laundry unit whose trucks were a welcome sight among mud-spattered troops in South Korea is closing out more than a decade on the peninsula and returning to the United States, the Army said Wednesday.
The 473rd Quartermaster Company is relocating from Camp Kyle in Uijongbu to Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., where it will be assigned to U.S. Forces Command, said officials at the Army’s 19th Theater Support Command in Taegu, South Korea.
The company was “probably one of the most highly deployed units on the peninsula” because of the clean clothes and hot showers they provided the troops, said Lt. Col. Lawrence Kominiak, commanding officer of the 498th Corps Support Battalion in Seoul, which had been the company’s parent unit.
“When soldiers get it, they sure love it and, obviously, when it’s made available, they use it. Because a hot shower — you can’t pass that up.”
About 100 soldiers are assigned to the company.
The move to Georgia is part of the Pentagon’s ongoing downsizing of U.S. forces in South Korea, the Army said.
With the company’s departure, the Army plans to use civilian contractors to provide laundry and shower services in the field, officials said.
Based in South Korea since 1993, the company would roll out to the field with its big truck-mounted laundry machine that could wash and dry about 200 pounds of laundry at a time.
Its soldiers also would set up 12-stall tents that afforded grateful troops a chance at a hot shower in an individual stall, the water fed from a boiler that was part of the unit’s field equipment, Kominiak said.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” he said. “You have showers and laundry co-located.”
Typically, soldiers would turn in their dirty laundry to their unit supply sergeant, who would drop it off at the 473rd collection point. The company would take it from there.
“The items would be washed and laundered and dried and then brought back into a tent and folded, where they are put in a bag for return to the customer,” Kominiak said.
“It’s a health issue, number one — on the health side, soldiers need to stay clean to continue on for their mission. And it’s certainly a morale booster, wherever you are. You can get your clothes clean and you can get a hot shower as opposed to a sponge bath or a field shower.”
The company recently supported U.S. Marines during a military exercise at Camp Humphreys in Pyongtaek, Kominiak said.
And when the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was carrying out intensive training in South Korea before deploying to Iraq last year, the 473rd was on hand.
The Army held a departure ceremony at Camp Kyle on Tuesday and the Uijongbu mayor presented the unit a marble plaque in recognition of its South Korea service, Kominiak said.