News: Minnesota postal unit returns from Afghanistan
Story by Capt. Jill Odell
FORT SNELLING, Minn. – Local Minnesota Army Reserve service members from the 847th Human Resources Company 3rd Postal Platoon out of Fort Snelling, Minn. celebrate the end of a successful deployment conducting postal operations in eastern Afghanistan. The soldiers were honored for their service at the Welcome Home Warrior Ceremony Aug. 1, 2014.
Providing a vital link to home for thousands of service members stationed in eastern Afghanistan, the 3rd Postal Platoon delivered mail to some of the most remote Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in the eastern part of the country. Connecting to home can be a challenge for soldiers at some of these remote bases due to poor internet and phone service, so mail delivery becomes even more important. Although the unit had their main postal hub, the “Mail Yard,” at the Jalalabad Airfield located at FOB Fenty in the Bihsud District of Nangarhar Province, postal operations for the remote FOBs in eastern Afghanistan were accomplished by utilizing three to four member “Rodeo Teams” who delivered mail traveling by helicopter.
“The Rodeo Team sets up mobile postal stations at FOBs for a day or two,” states Army Spc. Melvin Byrd, Postal Operations Specialist on the Rodeo Team from Minneapolis, Minn. “We usually make it out to a FOB two-to-four times a month. So the soldiers are always really happy to see us arrive.”
The Rodeo Team member is always on the move, so there is little time to work out. “We kept in shape lifting our 150 pound tough boxes that we had to take with us,” states Army Spc. Jordan Lampe, Postal Operations Specialist on the Rodeo Team from Minneapolis, Minn. “It seemed like no place in Afghanistan was flat, so we were always moving those boxes up a hill then down a hill and back up a hill.”
The mountainous locations also added unique weather difficulties for the Rodeo Team. While delivering mail to a FOB located near a valley in the mountains, a cloud moved over the valley halting all flights and trapping the Rodeo Team at the FOB for almost two weeks.
“We thought we were only going to be there for a day or two. We only brought enough clothes and supplies for that long. We did a lot of laundry” states Byrd.
Postal operations have had many challenges throughout history, thus the 2500 year old motto by Herodotusin a Greek historian, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." This unofficial motto of the modern postal worker was originally written to describe Greek postal curriers during a war between Greece and Persia around 500 B.C.E.
Soldiers from the 847th 3rd Postal Platoon continue this tradition of postal delivery in the midst of war. Battling combat conditions, remote mountainous delivery locations, and the volatility of weather, the 3rd platoon successfully completed their appointed rounds during their yearlong deployment to eastern Afghanistan.
“It was a great experience, but we are really glad to be back home,” states Byrd who plans on returning to the University of Minnesota to continue his pursuit of a degree in mathematics.