BAN CHAN KREM, Thailand --
As the sun crept over the horizon, the sun’s rays mirrored off a motionless pond, infested with bacteria. These bacteria are not easily relinquished, but two U.S. Marines were ready to purify the water.
Cpl. Abraham Ostosmendoza and Lance Cpl. Jamie Neal set up a Light Weight Water Purification System to supply water for the Royal Thai and U.S. Marines, Feb. 11 at Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015.
“The Marines typically come out here with the water bowls,” said Ostosmendoza, a water support technician with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We attach [the water tanks] to the distribution pump fill them up with clean water, and they take it to the [training] ranges for the Marines.”
The dirty water potentially carries bacteria such as E.coli and different parasites. This can lead to many illnesses. Because of this, the U.S. Marines learn to unfailingly check the gauges, temperature and pressure of the purification system to ensure it runs smoothly.
“Most of the time, illnesses from dirty water cause similar symptoms to food borne illnesses like gastrointestinal issues,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel P. Plasencia, a hospital corpsman and a preventative medicine technician with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, currently assigned to III MEF under the unit deployment program. “These issues cause rapid loss of fluids which needs to be treated with rehydration.”
When there is no clean water around, purification is crucial, and also plays a big role during humanitarian assistance missions, according to Neal, a water support technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd MLG.
“I participated in operation Damayan, and supplied water for the locals after the destruction of the typhoon,” said Ostosmendoza. “It’s situations like that where you realize how important, and how much of a difference this can make.”
Throughout the day, U.S. Marines helped protect the Thai Marines from illnesses and had the opportunity to interact with their culture.
“Whenever we help them out they always reach back out to us,” said Ostosmendoza, from Staten Island, New York. “For example, yesterday we supplied them with water and later that night they returned with some food they cooked for us.”
Learning went hand-in-hand for both Thai and U.S. Marines, according to Neal from, Houma, Louisiana.
“I enjoy the fact that we can get first hand relations with the Thai Marines,” said Neal. “Especially because we’re their counterparts; so it’s great sharing what we do and learning from their culture.”
For more information on exercise Cobra Gold, please visit the official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ExerciseCobraGold.