Post office delivers piece of home
By Staff Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 18, 2003
SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- In a three-word phrase, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks summarized what could make or break a good day for airmen deployed to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing -- "You've got mail."
Postal clerks of the 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron ensure everyone assigned to the wing and its tenant units are able to send and receive mail while deployed and supporting various missions including Operation Southern Watch.
To handle the increased load of mail for thousands of new soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, the post office recently moved into a larger building and receives help from the unit mail clerks to offload and sort the mail.
"The volume of mail processed each week has increased more than 800 percent since December," said Capt. Jackie Meyer, 386th ECS commander. "We are now processing nearly 33,000 pounds of mail each week. This is equivalent to the amount of mail processed by an overseas flying wing, but we are doing it with one-fifth the manpower."
Although the workload has increased nearly tenfold since they have arrived, the postal clerks have taken it in stride and maintain a positive outlook on the work they do.
"It's hard work, but we've got a great team," said Airman 1st Class Taylor Hodgson, one of the postal clerks. "We work side by side with our sister services everyday, and everyone has a lot of fun breaking down the mail. The benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks."
One of the benefits the post office offers deployed members is the free letter service. Servicemembers can write 'free' in the space where a stamp would go, and the post office mails it without charging for a stamp.
"We can send any piece of correspondence that weighs 13 ounces or less, free of charge," said Tech. Sgt. Keith Weiss, postmaster of the wing post office. "Correspondence includes letters and postcards, as well as personal audio tapes, video tapes or digital correspondence on a CD-Rom or floppy disk.
The group of postal clerks realizes how important their job is, and that is why they process the mail daily. In doing so, they ensure that letters or packages sent from friends or family get to people quickly.
The post office provides an important service to deployed members, and the significance of that role is seen in the support the post office receives from the base.
"I have never seen people pull together like they have here," said Meyer. "We get volunteers from Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy units every day to help load and unload mail. It's a great pleasure to see this kind of cooperation during stressful times like this."