Quartermaster company cleans up

Spc. Paul St. Pierre works with laundry machines as a member of the 464th Quartermaster Company, a Michigan National Guard unit based in Lapeer, Michigan, Aug. 10, 2016 during Northern Strike 2016. (Michigan National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa/Released)

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Story written by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs

CAMP GRAYLING JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Mich.– There are few things that will boost the morale of a troop out in the field more than a shower and a clean pair of socks.

Enter the Michigan National Guard’s 464th Quartermaster Company. The company’s field laundry and field shower unit is one of only three such units in the Army, three of which exist in the National Guard.

“Nothing boosts morale more than a clean pair of socks and a fresh uniform to put on,” said Sgt. Deanna Lippert, who is overseeing the laundry check-in area at the 464th’s operation at the North FOB at Camp Grayling during Northern Strike 2016.

Lippert said the laundry operation can clean about 75 pounds of laundry per hour. That can be enough to ensure that as many as 1,500 troops per day receive fresh laundry.

“We’re not operating at capacity for this exercise, but we are providing laundry and shower services at both the North and South FOBs,” Lippert said. “It is an important service to the Soldiers in the field.”

A few steps away from the laundry check-in area, Specialist John Schlaack and a crew of Soldiers are operating the large wash machines that actually turn dirty clothes into new ones.

Schlaack, who works as a nursing assistant at Troy Beaumont Hospital in his civilian job and is also enrolled in nursing school, said the hands-on approach to his military assignment keeps things interesting.

Schlaak and his crew not only are working with the laundry machines, but with the heaters and condensers that boil the roughly 400 gallons of water per day that are used in the machines. Once that water is boiled, the steam is captured and condensed, allowing the laundry crew to recycle virtually every drop of water they use.

“This way, we are able to operate even in an area where there are issues getting water,” he said.

At the final station at the laundry, other Soldiers are folding the clothes and doing an inventory against the laundry tags that have followed the laundry every step of the way – ensuring that proverbial missing sock in the laundry does not come up missing in this operation.

“Depending on our volume, a Soldier may be able to drop off laundry in the morning and pick it up that same night,” said Sgt. Laquanda Murphy, who is running the folding and pick-up operation.

The company’s other major operation is a 12-head shower tent that can accommodate up to 144 troops per hour, said Sgt. Eric Shaw.

Soldiers in Shaw’s section work with the pumps and the heaters to ensure that Soldiers are able to receive a hot shower when they are able to take a break.

“I know it makes a big difference in how a Soldier feels after a long day out in the field,” Shaw said. “What we do makes a difference.”

The 464th Quartermaster Company is based in Lapeer, Michigan.

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