News: Marines, MLCs, civilians raise morale, deliver mail
Story by Pfc. David Hersey
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Marines, master labor contract employees and civilians worked long hours to facilitate a happy holiday season for the military community on Okinawa.
The employees with III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations Pacific post offices delivered a high volume of mail that included both gifts arriving on island from state-side loved ones, and gifts from Okinawa being sent back home and abroad.
“It was tiring, but it was worth it,” said Lance Cpl. Felicia N. Barrow, a postal clerk with Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, MCIPAC.
The sheer volume of incoming and outgoing mail was a formidable challenge.
According to postal operations officials, from January through November 2012, the Marine Corps’ postal operations on Okinawa, to include Torii Station, received an average of more than 500,000 pounds of mail monthly. In December, that number nearly doubled to close to 900,000 pounds, not including outgoing mail.
Staying in front of the heavy holiday workload required extra work at the post offices.
Helping those stationed on Okinawa take part in holiday traditions lifted the spirits of the postal workers.
“Overall, the morale of the post office is high when they can deliver a much-anticipated package or letter from home,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ashild J. Ruiz, a postal finance officer for MCB Butler. “When a customer tells them thank you, it makes a world of difference to these young Marines who are so far away from home and, at times, deliver a package but have not received one themselves.”
The positive effect that packages from home have on the morale of those stationed on Okinawa can not be overstated.
“(The packages) help us have a small piece of home with us even while we are so far away,” said Sgt. Daniel Sotonieves, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “Plus, we have a chance to share the culture we are living in with our loved ones back home (when we send them gifts and mail).”
Beyond the simple “thanks,” the emotion of those receiving packages from loved ones stateside is a reward for the postal Marines.
“(Mail recipients) are always ecstatic when they finally receive the package they’ve been waiting for. It’s like the little kid inside them comes out,” said Marcelino S. Hernandez, a mail clerk with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, MCIPAC. “It is especially important here on Okinawa. Quite often, it is the Marine’s first time away from home. They can email and call their family if they are feeling homesick, but receiving a package makes all the difference in the world.”
Even with the extra work, the Marines, MLCs, and civilians were in high spirits as they went about their work, ensuring everyone who had mail would receive it.
“Mail lets them know that people back home are still thinking about them and offering their support,” said Barrow.