KUWAITI NAVAL BASE, Kuwait --
After nearly two weeks of constant cleaning, scrubbing, spraying down and inspecting, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit has completed its wash down.
Many view wash down as the last major evolution before heading home.
"Wash down is kind of the final step," said Pfc. Adam Sobolewski, a Marine with Battalion Landing Team 2/6, the BLT for the 26th MEU. "We're getting all of the vehicles cleaned up, ready to pass inspection so that we can load them up on ship and return back to the states," he said.
However, wash down is more than just the last major marker in the deployment calendar; it is an essential step in ensuring the United States is protected from any kind of foreign contaminate, said Maj. Randal Jones, the MEU's Logistics officer.
"Wash down is really key … in ensure(ing) that (everything) is agriculturally ready to be back-loaded onto the ships and to reenter the continental U.S.," said Jones.
"We're in a foreign land and we've conducted several exercises, and in order to prevent any type of introduction of different foreign substances, such as insects or dirt … it's key that we clean our equipment and make sure it is absolutely 100% certified by US customs," he explained.
Before being certified as ready to go back on the ship and eventually transported back into the United States, each vehicle was first washed from top to bottom.
"We have to get all the dirt, all the grime out of the vehicles before we load them back onto the ship," Sobolewski explained. "To clean the vehicles it's been taking about an average of two hours," he said
Still, it's hard to ignore the one thing that seems to be on everyone's mind, the prospect of going home.
"The wash down signifies a lot. When the Marines hear wash down it's almost like, 'hey I know that I'm going home' and that's one of the key things," Jones said. "Not to say that Marines can 'smell the barn,' but hey, it lets Marines know that the barn is near."