Camp Humphreys hosts 'water dogs' exercise
May 1, 2003
TAEGU, South Korea — Show Army Sgt. Jason Tellez a muddy lake, stream or river, and in a few hours, he’ll serve up drinkable water, 3,000 gallons at a time.
Tellez is an Army “water dog,” a soldier trained to use big machines — and their chemicals and filters — that takes undrinkable water and turns it into drinkable water.
Tellez and other troops in South Korea took part recently in a competition to see which of four teams could most quickly deploy their water purification equipment in a battlefield scenario.
Teams were drawn from Company A, 702nd Main Support Battalion at Camp Casey; the 305th Quartermaster Company, part of the 498th Corps Support Battalion at Yongsan Garrison, Seoul; and the 348th Quartermaster Company, part of the 194th Maintenance Battalion at Camp Humphreys.
Water dogs use reverse osmosis water purification units, also known as ROWPUs, to do the job.
The soldiers work with two types, one that turns out purified water at a rate of 3,000 gallons an hour and a smaller unit that purifies 600 gallons per hour.
The unit “converts raw water from a variety of sources, including oceans, rivers and lakes,” said 1st Lt. Fermin Gonzales of the 498th Corps Support Battalion, which hosted the April 21-25 exercise at Camp Humphreys near Pyongtaek.
“We purify it to the point where it’s able to be drunk, and you can use it for personal hygiene.”
Sixteen soldiers took part in the exercise, which was divided into four timed phases: breaking the equipment out in field conditions and taking inventory; checking whether it works; getting it running and packing it up.
Tellez’s team won, earning a trophy for the unit. He’s in Company A, 702 Main Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey.
Members of his team also each received a trophy and the Army Achievement Medal. Members of the other teams are to get certificates of achievement.
“There are a whole bunch of parts that compose the ROWPUs, a lot of hoses and connections and pumps, it’s a very complex piece of equipment,” Gonzales said. “There are a lot of gadgets inside this thing.
“What we’re trying to do is get the soldiers more familiar with their equipment. Everyone wants to be the fastest and most knowledgeable, and they want to show it off.”
The exercise included a written test.
Teams also had to use maps to scout bodies of water, just as in wartime.
Water dogs need such training, Tellez said.
“It’s important because you have to be able to provide the support to the line units and, in order to be proficient, you have to train as you would fight,” Tellez said.
Pvt. Maria Mobley is a water dog with the 348th Quartermaster Company.
“I feel that now I can go to my next duty station and teach other soldiers something. … It’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s good training,” she said. “So even if you don’t win, your skills are sharper.”