Supply unit fulfills all needs to keep camp and soldiers happy
June 8, 2007
FORWARD OPERATING BASE NORMANDY, Iraq — There ain’t no KBR around these parts.
So when it comes to repairing a broken Humvee at 3 a.m., delivering fuel or providing fresh water, clean laundry and thousands of hot meals on a daily basis for this dusty camp near Muqdadiyah, Iraq, who gets the call?
About 130 soldiers with the Delta Forward Support Company of the 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance work around the clock to keep the logistics flowing for about 1,000 soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Normandy, said Capt. Alex Gonzales, the Dominators’ commander.
Often overlooked, sometimes unappreciated, logistics soldiers play a role in waging war that is just as important, if not more so, than that of any combat troops out on the front lines.
“If I can’t repair their Bradleys, then the soldiers can’t fight. If I can’t get them the fuel they need, then they can’t fight. If I can’t get them the food they need, then they won’t be any good,” said Gonzales, 28, of Silver City, N.M. “A lot of guys don’t appreciate how crucial we are. (But) to me, it’s a customer-service business — if they’re not happy, then we’re not doing something right.”
Every day, the Dominators are out on the roads, recovering broken-down or damaged vehicles, or delivering fuel and hot chow to other soldiers at combat outposts in Muqdadiyah.
For many soldiers, a day in Iraq might be over once their patrol ends, but for the Dominators, sometimes they’re only halfway there.
“When you finish here, you come back, and you still have roving guard, or tower guard or other tasks,” Gonzalez said.
When the call comes to assist a broken down vehicle, the recovery team has 10 minutes to be at the gate, fully equipped with their combat and repair gear and ready to go.
“They take it personal when a Bradley goes down,” Gonzales said. “… They’ll work all night to get that Bradley back into the fight.”
At the vehicle repair shed, mechanics routinely get about 15 vehicles in a day for routine maintenance checks, said Staff Sgt. Jason Breshears, repair team chief.
“That’s normal work,” said Breshears, 28, of Montrose, Mo.
“Heat is a big factor with the Brads,” Breshears said. “Heat takes a big toll.”
And while keeping the vehicles up and running takes a lot of elbow grease and the occasional torn knuckle, to keep soldiers going it takes fresh water — and lots of it.
At the reverse osmosis water purification unit, Sgt. Clint Bivins’ job is to pump and filter anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of fresh water from the Mahrut Canal every day.
Soldiers at Normandy drink bottled water that’s brought in from Camp Anaconda, the big logistics base near Balad. The water here is fit enough to drink, but mostly it’s used for cooking and to keep Normandy’s showers, latrines and laundry working. Three huge trailer-sized filtration systems operate at all times; each one can produce up to 60,000 gallons of water a day. Checks are performed every hour to ensure its quality.
“No one thinks about water much,” said Bivins, 29, of Owensboro, Ky. “But if we were to start making bad water, it’d be a bad deal.”
Another job the Dominators take pride in is delivering supplies to troops stationed at Combat Outpost Kwal, a small outpost in a two-story house located in Muqdadiyah. The patrol base was named after a 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance soldier who was killed by a sniper there earlier this year.
Troops usually rotate to the patrol base in 15 to 21 day stints. A delivery of fuel, hot food and other supplies comes once a day.
Pulling duty at Kwal is about as bare-bones as it gets. It’s hot and dusty; shade from the blazing sun is always at a premium. While there is electricity, there are few other amenities available.
Getting that one hot meal daily is so important, said 1st Sgt. Walter Sims, 41, of Detroit.
“It’s great for the morale of the soldiers,” Sims said. “Especially in this weather, a hot meal is perfect for them.”