News: Postal clerks deliver pieces of home to Soldiers
Story by Spc. Courtney Marulli
By Spc. Courtney Marulli
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq — Sorting through mail, inspecting packages and leaving Soldiers with a piece of home is all in a day's work for the Forward Operating Base Loyalty postal clerks.
Sgt. Jeremy Carlile, a pipe fitter and plumber, and Spc. Melody Boettcher, an administration specialist are both reservists with the 461st Engineer Company but are currently deployed with the 747th Adjunct General Postal Company.
Carlile, a native of Kent, Wash., is on his second deployment and said he volunteered to deploy to Iraq as a postal clerk. Boettcher, a native of Park Rapids, Minn., was chosen from her unit to serve as a postal clerk.
Though they aren't working in their military occupation specialty, they still enjoy their jobs.
"I like knowing that we're here to help the Soldiers and provide a little piece of morale," she said.
Carlile said he enjoys meeting those Soldiers.
"We become friendly with a lot of people," he said. "It's like being in a community and filling an important part."
Many Soldiers share a part of their lives while dropping off or picking up mail. Some stop by just to talk, he said.
The least glamorous part of the job is remembering all the rules and regulations for civilian mailing, military mailing and other governmental agency regulations such as customs.
"Each agency adds a little flavor of what we can and cannot do," Carlile said. "It's hard to remember all the rules, especially when we have to go through parcel mail and look for and find non-mailable items."
Another aspect of being selected as postal clerks was that Carlile and Boettcher were removed from their chain of command, which is located at FOB Rustamiyah.
Carlile said as long as they stayed within the ground rules set by their chain of command they could make it work.
Boettcher said they have great leaders but they were able to rely on the support of senior non-commissioned officers at FOB Loyalty if they needed that level of leadership in any given situation. But their leaders were always in touch.
"They are always a phone call away," Boettcher said.
Since they had more flexibility to govern themselves, they coordinated their shifts so that one would work during the first half of the day and the other the last half.
"Our operation is seven days a week," Boettcher said. "Our counterparts in the states work five days a week."
Carlile said they also had to work more hours than the other postal clerks at FOB Rustamiyah because there are only two of them.
"We've been open everyday since we got here except Aug. 5 because we didn't have power in the building," Carlile said.
Boettcher said they stayed open for half the day on holidays and adjusted their schedules to ensure Soldiers on patrol could come and pick up their mail. They also worked around the schedule of mail shipments to the FOB.
Carlile said this deployment was better than his previous one because he got to work in an air-conditioned office this time.
"I didn't have that the last time I was here," he said. "I was outside everyday."
Boettcher said she enjoys knowing that she has a purpose.
"I don't know if I could work in a civilian atmosphere because Soldiers here realize we are here for them as opposed to in the States where a post officer is taken for granted," she said.