CAMP THUNDER, Iraq; -- It doesn't take much to keep Marines moving in Iraq's hot dusty desert. Give them some ammunition, a mission - maybe even some bad guys to shoot at - just don't forget to serve it all up chilled.
Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment learned that one of the best things a grunt can get on a hot day is some ice-cold water. Now, humvees from the Weapon's Company's Combined Anti-Armor Team make room for coolers filled with the cold stuff.
"Having ice on patrols will get you through because it's so hot," said Staff Sgt. Marcelino R. Rialon, a 35-year-old, from Fresno, Calif., and the section leader for Weapons Company. "Especially during the day, we like having ice cold water."
The mess hall provides Marines with bags of ice but runs out just as it receives it. Marines turned straight to the source - an ice factory right on the base.
"The chow hall doesn't get enough for stock," said Sgt. Corey L. Sather, 24, from Anaheim, Calif., and a squad leader for Weapons Company. "It wasn't a big deal when we first got here, but now it's something we're happy to have during day patrols. It's a huge luxury."
Most of the ice coolers neatly stacked into humvees were issued from supply stores. Still, keeping water cold was such a priority that Marines dug into their pockets and bought more from the camp's exchange.
In fact, ice has become so much a part of the Marines' daily existence, they worry about the refrigeration process. The ice factory went off-line just once and the Marines hope that it doesn't happen again now that August is here.
"The Marines' hearts were crushed when the factory went down," Rialon explained. "We all missed the ice. One day in June, one of my Marines had a digital thermometer that read 133 degrees and now the hottest month of the year is here."
According to Cpl. Fiskerland J. Charlesworth, 24, from Park City, Utah, the cold water has become one of those essential luxuries, or a bit of comfort they never realized they needed until now.
"It's something small, not much to ask for," Charlesworth said. "It's one of those things people take for granted, but for us it's a valuable commodity. It makes the water easier to go down."
The ice, the Marines said, is cool comfort when they climb back in their vehicles.
"They can look forward to drinking something cold and not hot water," Sather said. "The ice factory does makes life a little easier out here in Iraq."
Three bags of ice can fit into each cooler and the ice usually lasts throughout the patrols.
"Regardless of ice or not, we still have to do the mission and go out, but it's really nice to have," Rialon said. "Ice and water is like having a peanut butter jelly sandwich, you have to have both to enjoy it."