PACIFIC OCEAN --
PACIFIC OCEAN – The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is deployed as a crises response and contingency force in the 7th Fleet’s area of operation and prepared for a multitude of mission capabilities, from full-scale raids to humanitarian assistance-disaster relief efforts.
The Logistics Combat Element is specifically trained in the latter and contains platoons, which provides logistical support in the form of capabilities such as medical assistance, general engineering, aviation landing support and water purification.
Water purification is vital to the 15th MEU, not just for humanitarian assistance, but for Marines deployed in underdeveloped and austere locations. Potable drinking water isn’t always available and dehydration is a serious detriment to mission accomplishment. For situations such as these, the 15th MEU employed the Lightweight Water Purification System, which is a portable water purifier used to turn fresh and salt water into potable drinking water for Marines to stay hydrated on ship and in the field.
“We set up and started the LWPS so that we could cross train our other engineers and share some basic knowledge of operations,” said 1st Lieutenant Ryan Hedgcorth, the combat logistics detachment officer in charge, “In situations where my support water technicians, engineers and other elements of [the LCE] are spread too thin, this diversity in training allows us to be flexible and efficient when it comes to mission accomplishment.”
Now that the 15th MEU is in the 7th Fleet area of operation the LWPS system is getting its first taste of the Pacific waters. Taking only a few hours from set up to purified, the water support technicians work together with combat engineers to assemble and disassemble the purifier.
“We do this type of training to ensure, not only we know how to operate our own systems,” said Cpl. Kyle Ussery, a water support technician. “But setting up and running the LWPS also helps ensure all the different moving parts and individual systems run smoothly. Disassembly and reassembly is an opportunity to conduct maintenance if needed.”
The LWPS System is capable of purifying over six hundred gallons of potable drinking water an hour, and can purify fresh and salt water enabling the use of the purifier almost anywhere.
“Simply put everyone needs water,” said Ussery “The most satisfying part of doing what I do is knowing that without me and my team a lot of what everyone else does here on deployment would be impossible, and the people I provide for really appreciate us.”
With the LWPS the 15th MEU has the capability to provide not only for itself but also with an opportunity to help out those in need.