News: Five serving 30,000: Postal operations in Al Asad
Story by Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
AL ASAD AIRBASE, Iraq — There are many things that affect morale in a unit. Some are obvious factors such as lack of food, water, shelter, or other basic necessities, but another commodity that people often overlook is mail.
Being in a deployed environment, a piece of mail carries almost magical powers to change a soldier’s attitude, said Spc. William Matthew, satellite transmitting terminal team chief with the 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Goose Creek, S.C., native.
“Just one little letter from my girlfriend will make my whole month,” he added. “I can’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. Everything seems to be right that day.”
That is the goal of the 3rd Platoon, 678th Human Resources Company, assigned to the 22nd Human Resources Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade.
The platoon deployed from Nashville, Tenn., to Al Asad, Iraq, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in June 2010. Before they left, they were unaware that they would be taking over postal operations on Al Asad, Taji, and Ramadi.
“Not all of us were postal qualified before we left, so that presented some unique challenges,” said 1st Lt. Marie Maze, platoon leader and postal officer with the 3/678th HRC, and a Louisville, Ky., native. “They have all done a really good job. They were able to jump right in and make a seamless mission transition for postal operations on three different bases here in Iraq.”
The platoon deployed with 21 soldiers, but was split between the three bases. In Al Asad the average retrograde mail—mail leaving base—reaches more than 100,000 pieces of mail, and more than 375,000 pieces of pro-grade mail (incoming mail). The platoon is efficiently conducting the mission set of two platoons, said Maj. Robert Arroyo, commander of the 22nd HRC, and a Lacey, Wash., native.
“The platoon developed and implemented a new convoy operations plan that allowed more mail traffic to be conducted from the Ramadi soldier-operated satellite Army Post Office to the outlining FOBs [forward operating bases],” he said. “The 3/678th postal platoon’s technical expertise and tireless determination was invaluable to the movement and distribution of over two million pounds of retrograde mail and 3.4 million pounds of pro-grade mail at Al Asad Airbase, Ramadi, and Camp Taji Army post offices, which generated over $1.2 million in commerce in support of reduction of forces in Iraq.”
Maze added that because of the hard work and dedication that her soldiers in the 3/678th HRC provide, the soldiers, airmen and civilians at Al Asad are in better spirits due to the effect that mail has on morale.
“When the mail person comes with the mail, and puts out that list and your name is on that list, it is an exciting and exhilarating feeling,” said Staff Sgt. Danyeal Thomas, personnel section non-commissioned officer-in-charge with the 240th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd ESC, at Al Asad, Iraq, and a Chadbourn, S.C., native. “You find yourself ripping into that package to see what you got. It’s like Christmas. Every piece of mail you get out here is like Christmas.”