FORT STORY, Va. - Five Soldiers from the 125th Quartermaster Company suffered through “the most frustrating two hours of their lives” as they sat down and took a grueling 50 question examination that tested their knowledge of four separate water purification platforms commonly deployed by the U.S. Army, Aug. 14, 2010.
The written exam is so challenging that no Soldier has ever achieved a passing grade. With this exam the Annual Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Rodeo Competition at FORSCOM Logistics Training Cluster had officially begun.
The ROWPU Rodeo is a mental, technical and physical test to find the best team of water treatment specialists that the U.S. Army has to offer and the 125th was in direct competition with Active Duty, Army Reserve and National Guard teams from as far away as the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Coming off last year’s strong third place finish, hopes were high that the 125th Quartermaster Company would again place in the top three despite the fact that none of the last year’s team was allowed to compete this year. This year’s team was supervised by Sgt. 1st Class Stanley Martin; although not officially in the competition Martin mentored, trained and prepared the team. The team leader, fresh from a deployment Iraq, was Staff Sgt. Pamela Nykiel. Rounding out the rest of the team were Sgt. Jennifer Nicholls, Sgt. Timothy Martinez, Pfc. Ariell Aoude and Pfc. Jose Soto.
While most Soldiers would be thrilled at the chance of spending four days in the sand and surf on Virginia Beach, all teams were required to compete in full web gear and army combat helmet for the duration of the technical and tactical portion of the competition as they set-up, operated, broke down and packed up three types of water purification platforms used by the U.S. Army.
The three platforms used were the Lightweight Water Purifier able to be loaded and transported in the back of a Humvee and typically used for specialized, small unit operations, the Tactical Water Purification System which is a palletized, set in place system designed for medium to large output water operations and the 3k Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit which is a trailer mounted and operated system designed for large output water operations.
The ROWPU is the most difficult piece of water purification to operate, maintain and pack and is capable of producing 60,000 gallons of potable water, under optimal conditions, per day.
The 125th scored close to 100 points higher than any other team on the ROWPU portion of the competition.
In the end, their performance on the ROWPU pushed them over top providing enough points to pull out a first place finish making the 125th Quartermaster Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, the best water purification unit in the U.S. Army in 2010.