News: Army delivers the mail before Christmas
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Adam Stone
SOUTHWEST ASIA – You know you’re a big deal when you can say you have your own zip code. For soldiers of the 2nd Field Artillery Battalion, 18th FA Regiment deployed in Southwest Asia, that means mail delivery.
To support this need Army Reserve soldiers of the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and 444th Human Resources Company, from Coraopolis, Pa. and currently deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, set up a new Army post office from scratch just two months before Christmas.
Getting mail to soldiers deployed overseas is a command priority, especially at this time of year.
“Everybody on the camp knows when mail day is. They know that their families are sending everything they’re asking for,” says Spc. Jimmy Bennett, 2nd FA Battalion, 18th FA Regiment, and a native of Columbus, Ga.
“Our chain-of-command wanted to make sure they have the support they need before Christmas. Since this operation started we have been pushing it in time to get it ready for this critical moment,” says 1st Lt. Mikil Hernandez of the 316th and a resident of Browns Mills, N.J.
When the 2-18th was building its camp, it included a post office in its plans. This means, postal soldiers are able to sort thousands of pounds worth of mail at a time inside their tent.
Hernandez was the first team member to arrive around the beginning of November to set up the APO. Before the team could start receiving mail, he had to make sure the post office could receive and store mail while also finding a way to get mail to the soldiers.
“In a situation like this, an APO can take anywhere from three to eight weeks before we can start distributing mail,” said Capt. Leslie Mose, the 316th Human Resources Operations Branch officer in charge.
The 444th HRSC soldiers that took this mission were expecting to leave with the rest of their unit, this December. They’ve volunteered to remain in theater to sustain the postal mission until the 2-18th leaves theater in a few months.
Spc. Leslie Royster of the 444th and a native of the Hill district in Pittsburgh said, “The Army goes to great lengths to get mail to soldiers no matter the location. Some may get it more regularly than others, but we do everything within our power to get soldiers their mail.”
The mail team has delivered more than 24,500 pounds worth of mail since Thanksgiving according to Sgt. Greg Council of the 444th and a native of the Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
“I enjoy the mail mission and the joy it brings to soldiers’ faces. At times, they may be in a desolate place. That little piece of mail brings a piece of home to them,” said Council.