With less than 24 hours’ notice, soldiers from 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion canceled their weekend plans and got ready to support fellow soldiers and their families on Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where massive flooding had caused widespread destruction.
Leaving Oct. 9, the soldiers from 87th CSSB, including 226th Composite Supply Company, brought with them equipment to purify water and provide laundry services to the Fort Jackson community.
With a population of about 10,000, the post mainly serves as a training installation, conducting basic training and Advanced Individual Training, said Capt. Nicholos Pittmon, the commander of 226th CSC, 87th CSSB, 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade.
During the disaster relief mission, the Fort Stewart soldiers were part of Task Force Water, a compilation of units that included soldiers from Fort Bragg. A total of 106 soldiers made up the task force at its greatest, most of them from 3rd ID SB, according to Pittmon.
To give back to fellow soldiers and their families, “It was actually an awesome experience,” said Pittmon when the soldiers arrived home Sunday.
Pittmon said one of the highlights was on their second day, when they went to the housing area on post and delivered fresh water door to door.
“And most people were surprised that that was happening. And the soldiers were welcomed and were appreciated for the rest of the time that we were there because of it,” he said.
Pittmon said that by the end of their time at Fort Jackson, the soldiers from 226th CSC produced and delivered about 155,000 gallons of fresh water and cleaned laundry for about 3,000 soldiers.
The unit brought two Laundry Advanced Systems to wash soldiers’ laundry, according to Sgt. Tanesha Friday, a shower/laundry and clothing-repair specialist with 226th CSC.
“We actually ended up being backed up, being that one of the systems did go down,” Friday said. “But we did a couple hundred bags a day, and same-day turnaround.”
Pfc. Blane Stefancik, a truck driver with 226th CSC, said he drove water buffalos, or mobile water tanks, which hold up to about 100 gallons of water, to different locations around the installation.
Stefancik said the soldiers would refill the water buffalos daily, “sometimes twice a day ’cause they had no water at all. We were supporting the only purified water up there.”
Not only did the Fort Stewart soldiers support Fort Jackson soldiers and their families, they also helped some of the on-post businesses open, which allowed civilian hourly workers to return to work.
“But you should have just seen the smiles on the people’s faces when they were just able to come back to work,” Pittmon said. “Just because we were able pull one of these trucks — water tanks — up to the back door, reel in a hose and start giving them water.”
“This situation was fairly unique,” said Pittmon.
He said 226th CSC goes through a number of exercises over the year to prepare for short-notice missions.
“However, that time period is usually stretched out to about 36 hours, is the standard. And this mission was less than 24 hours’ notice, so this was fairly unique,” he said.
Pittmon went on to say that water-production capability is fairly new to the unit, but the soldiers’ training prepared them well for this mission.
“Everybody worked so well together,” Spc. Jamie Black, a water-treatment specialist with 226th CSC, said of her soldiers.
They worked with soldiers from Fort Bragg and different companies whom they did not know, she said.
“And they jumped in like they were 92 whiskeys (water-treatment specialists), and they knew how to work everything. So everybody worked very, very well together,” Black said.