120th Quartermaster Detachment

Welcomed Home from Iraq

 

Written by Shad West

Published November 6, 2006

 

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Staff Sgt, David Churchtown, center, Spc. Carrie Weatherspoon, left, and Sgt. Joseph Porritt celebrate  their arrival at Salt Lake Air Base.

Photo by Shad West

Staff Sgt, David Churchtown, center, Spc. Carrie Weatherspoon, left, and Sgt. Joseph Porritt celebrate  their arrival at Salt Lake Air Base.

SALT LAKE CITY — During their homecoming Nov. 2 at the Salt Lake Air Base, emotions were as pure as the water the Springville-based 120th Quartermaster Detachment treated in Iraq.

More than a dozen Soldiers were greeted by family and friends at the Base after a 15-month deployment in Southern Iraq. Tears and cheers erupted from the crowd of well-wishers as the bus arrived from Salt Lake International Airport and Soldiers disembarked en masse.

Sgt. Krystal Wilson, an Eagle Mountain resident, was greeted by her husband and other family members. For Wilson, the past 15 months were full of unique challenges. This was her first deployment to Iraq.

“It feels great to be home,” Wilson said. “It was tough being the only married woman in the unit. I was the only one with a husband at home instead of a wife. It meant less fresh-baked cookies, I guess.”

Emily Porritt, wife of Sgt. Joseph Porritt, couldn’t contain herself as he got off the bus.

“It was very exciting to see him finally come off that bus,” Porritt said. “I didn’t have anything else on my mind that day. I couldn’t believe he was finally coming home.”

Porritt said thoughts and questions just swirled in her mind all day.

“Is this really happening?” she said. “I went the whole time without seeing him (meaning that he didn’t come home on leave during the deployment). I’m grateful he was willing to go when he was called up. He didn’t complain. I’m very proud of him.”

Anxious family members await the arrival of members of the 120th Quartermaster Detachment at Salt Lake Air Base.

Photo by Shad West

Anxious family members await the arrival of members of

the 120th Quartermaster Detachment at Salt Lake Air Base.

For Sgt. Porritt, Provo, the homecoming was unforgettable.

“I was just picturing the whole time what it was going to be like to see Emily again,” Porritt said. “I was a little nervous and really excited. I couldn’t believe how many people were waiting for us. It was really great support.”

While deployed to Iraq, the majority of Soldiers of the 120th were stationed at a convoy support center. Their primary mission was to purify water for the camp and all its needs.

The 120th produced water for up to 1,500 military members and civilians for showers, brushing teeth, the Troop Medical Clinic, the dining facility and the fire department. The source of water was a nearby canal that the U.S. military shared with local farmers. Soldiers purified the water using Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units, or ROWPUs.

The family of Spc. Tyler Decapot punctuate their emotions at his return from Iraq Nov. 2 at the Salt Lake Air Base.

Photo by Shad West

The family of Spc. Tyler Decapot punctuate their emotions

 at his return from Iraq Nov. 2 at the Salt Lake Air Base.

According to Lehi resident Sgt. 1st Class Carlyle Smith, commander of the 120th, his Soldiers took over for a unit that was producing at 45 percent capacity, and within two months they had increased output to more than 90 percent capacity, purifying an average of more than 70,000 gallons of water per day. 

While a pair of teams provided for the water needs of the camp, another team from the 120th supported the Class I—or food and water—needs of convoys which constantly rolled in and out of camp. Their duties included supplying Soldiers and Third-Country Nationals—with their daily rations, and making sure convoys had the ice and water necessary to complete their mission.

The unit also strengthened relations with foreign workers by handing out MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and bottled water to them. TCNs came from all over the world including Pakistan, India, Fiji, Ukraine, Bosnia, the Philippines and many Middle Eastern countries.

Members of the 23rd Army Band provide a musical salute to the service of the 120th Quartermaster Detachment at their return from Iraq Nov. 2.

Photo by Shad West

Members of the 23rd Army Band provide a musical salute to the service

 of the 120th Quartermaster Detachment at their return form Iraq Nov. 2.

Another important duty fulfilled by members of the 120th was convoy security. Of the five Soldiers dedicated exclusively to this mission, three became convoy commanders supervising caravans of trucks and other vehicles traveling the entire length of the country from Turkey to Kuwait. All told, the team participated in more than 560 convoy missions during their time in Iraq.

“My guys are the best in the military,” said Smith. “They made it happen, and the NCOs made sure the equipment kept it running at capacity the whole time. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of Soldiers.”

And Soldiers weren’t the only ones who were stretched by their tour in Iraq; family members  left behind say the deployment changed them as well.  

“The whole experience has made me a lot stronger,” Emily Porritt said. “I was able to do things I didn’t think I could.”