El Paso, Texas Soldiers keep it clean
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq — As Q-West nears a base turnover with the Iraqi Air Force in July, more Soldiers returned home and more facilities shut down – facilities like the civilian operated laundry service.
Soldiers from a Joint Base Balad shower laundry and clothing repair team with the 263rd Quartermaster Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), arrived here May 23 to ensure Soldiers and civilian employees had continued access to laundry services.
The 10-Soldier SLCR team set up operations with a large portable laundry and drying system – a machine capable of handling up to 400 pounds of laundry per hour – that an incoming Hawaiian team is scheduled to take over in early June, said Spc. Diego Rodriguez, a shower, laundry, and clothing repair specialist with 263rd Quartermaster Co. and an El Paso, Texas native.
Before the team arrived Soldiers and civilians sent their clothes to another base for cleaning. With the arrival of the SLCR team, laundry customers’ wait was reduced from five days to 24 hours. Not even the previous civilian laundry service worked that quickly, he said.
“It’s a morale booster,” said Sgt. Alexine Garcia, SLCR specialist with the 263rd Quartermaster Co. and an El Paso, Texas native. “They don’t have to wait so long or wear the same clothes over and over.”
“We’re running a little more efficiently than they were,” she said, referring to the civilian laundry service.
The two-drum laundry and drying system is capable of washing and drying up to 45 bags, or 200 pounds, of laundry per drum every 60 minutes. That’s 90 bags, or 400 pounds, each hour, Rodriguez said.
The generator-powered system also recycles laundry water using a heated and filtered still. The 3,000 gallon water bladder the system uses, is replaced every three days, he said.
“It takes ten of us to do the laundry and it took 50 [civilians],” Rodriquez said.
Garcia said their SLCR team is running a little more efficiently than the civilians were.
The team’s smaller size does not mean they cannot handle large numbers of customers either.
“In one day we’ve serviced 130 Soldiers and civilians,” Garcia said.
Pfc. Higinio Ortiz, a shower, laundry, and clothing repair specialist with the 263rd Quartermaster Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and an El Paso, Texas native, checks a load of laundry in the large portable laundry and drying system May 25 at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley)