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Lance Cpl. Andrew C. Grencer, a water purification technician with Utilities Platoon, Service Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), turns on a water pump at Forward Operating Base Nolay in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 5. Water purification technicians with 8th ESB provide laundry and shower services for Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Forward), who operate from the FOB.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kenneth C. Jasik

Utilities Marines bring health, comfort to 3_5 Marines in Sangin

16 Dec 2010 | Lance Cpl. Kenneth Jasik

Fighting in Afghanistan can soak Marines in sweat and dirt, so hot showers and clean laundry can do wonders for morale, especially for Marines operating out of remote forward operating bases in Helmand province.

Luckily for the service members at FOB Nolay in Sangin, Afghanistan, water purification technicians with Utilities Platoon, Service Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), provide clean water for laundry service and showers to Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

“We purify water with the Target Water Purification System, and we distribute it to shower and laundry services,” said Cpl. Andrew C. Grencer, a water purification technician with Utilities Platoon, Service Co., 8th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD).

The water purification technicians spend a lot of time setting up their systems and ensuring every detail is perfect because they understand how important clean, hot water is for the Marines.

“Setting up our TWPS takes a lot of work, and after that we need to make sure everything is running fine,” said Lance Cpl. Nick D. Stewart, a water purification technician with the platoon. “We are constantly checking the water for cleanliness.”

In addition to purified water for showers, the utilities Marines provide laundry service, a rare luxury the infantry Marines at the small FOB appreciate. The 3/5 Marines simply drop off their bags of dirty laundry, and the 8th ESB Marines do the rest.

“They love having us here,” said Grencer, 29, from Endicott, N.Y. “They love that they don’t have to take cold showers and that we wash their clothes. Any time we go to a FOB without running water, they love it when we get it running and they get to take their showers.”

The 8th ESB Marines began conducting operations in Sangin just a few weeks ago, taking over from their predecessors with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, who purified nearly 4 million gallons of water and cleaned 72,000 pounds of laundry for Marines and sailors during their 7-month deployment.

The water purification technicians enjoy bringing health and comfort to the Marines at FOB Nolay.

“When people are glad that they got a shower, I get a good feeling,” said Stewart, 21, from Silverdale, Wash. “I know I helped raise their morale.”


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