A clean uniform and a hot shower are luxuries Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers can look forward to when training in the field, thanks to the new 126th Quartermaster (QM) Field Services Company based in Quincy, Illinois.
The 126th QM provides large elements of Soldiers in the field with laundry services and the ability to take hot showers. With the capability of providing approximately 9,000 showers and cleaning 3,000 loads of laundry per day, the 126th’s Laundry Advanced Systems/Shower Systems can make a significant impact.
LTC Leonard Williams, the officer in charge of the 108th Sustainment Brigade, said the 126th will be used for critical and unique missions.
“All training will be geared toward customer-based operations, meaning the 126th QM will always strive to exercise in an environment that enables the unit to support other DoD entities during all types of operations,” LTC Williams said.
CPT David L. Wachtveitl, commander of the 126th, said there are few units like this one in the Army.
“We are in the process of getting assigned to shower and laundry support for engineer units conducting humanitarian construction missions in Guatemala for training year 2019,” CPT Wachtveitl said. “The Army, with its new operational doctrine, is starting a transition away from relying so much on contractor support for logistics.”
SGT Adam Phillips, a shower, laundry and clothing repair specialist (92S) for the 126th, said the unit is around 80 percent of its full strength. He explained that becoming a 92S requires a three-week school for reclassification or seven weeks for new Soldiers.
“The biggest benefit for a Soldier going into this military job is the upward mobility,” SGT Phillips said. “It doesn’t take long for Soldiers to reach the rank of sergeant.”
He stressed that the unit has the opportunity to directly affect the morale of Soldiers. He said showers help them feel refreshed and ready for the next mission.
“I can speak firsthand from being at an AT [annual training], the Soldiers were so thankful to have a shower,” SGT Phillips said. “Soldiers showed a lot of gratitude for the ability to shower and do laundry.”
SSG Christopher Kemper, a 92S shower and laundry noncommissioned officer, said the biggest benefits of joining the 126th are its great working environment and the effect the unit can have on the morale of Soldiers in the field.
“At Fort McCoy, [Wisconsin], we noticed that the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team [IBCT] was very happy to have our services available to them,” he said.
In that mission, SSG Kemper said the 126th provided 24-hour operations for the 33rd IBCT. “The leadership would let us know when the Soldiers were planning to come take showers and do laundry,” he said. “We assigned 10-hour shifts to Soldiers in our platoons to ensure we kept things moving smoothly all day.”
Some Soldiers may have a misconception of what it means to be a shower and laundry specialist, SSG Kemper said.
“You still get to do Army warrior tasks, and you still get to be in the fight,” he said. “You are always a Soldier first in the Army, and it’s no exception in the 126th.”
By SSG Robert R. Adams, Illinois National Guard