Area I postal clerks sort it all out
CAMP RED CLOUD South Korea -- It's been a longstanding fact of military life that "mail call" has been a big thing for servicemembers stationed away from family, with everyone gathered anxiously around the mail clerk, hoping their name is called.
Nowadays, with assigned mail boxes, that traditional mail call is mostly a thing of the past.
But now, as then, most look forward to their mail. They hope their box has something in it when they peer in -- an envelope, or better yet, a slip indicating they have a package.
Although the way we get our mail has changed, the process hasn't. There's still a team of dedicated, little-noticed Soldiers who are key players in seeing that home is delivered to you no matter how far away you are.
For Area I, that team is a 13-Soldier platoon from the 19th Adjutant General Company Postal. They're split between Camp Casey and Camp Red Cloud and are responsible for every piece of mail on U.S. military installations north of Seoul.
They're postal clerks, yes, but of course they're Soldiers too.
"We are here every week day at 4:30 in the morning doing (physical training)," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Letran, the platoon sergeant in charge of the Soldiers at the Camp Red Cloud post office.
"We do PT until the mail truck shows up at about 5 or 5:15," he said. "We then unload the truck and immediately reload the truck with yesterday's outgoing mail."
On a normal day they get anywhere from 60 to 150 bags or bins of mail, and that typically doubles in October when the holiday season begins, he said.
Each bag contains boxes and big envelopes, while the bins contain the letter mail.
But the truck's arrival is just a start. Once the truck leaves, the Soldiers have to get that mail sorted before they can be released for chow and personal hygiene.
"We do get help with this from some of the unit mail clerks," from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and from the 2nd Infantry Division, who "show up here every day and assist us in sorting the mail, which makes it go faster," Letran said.
Once that's done and mail is ready for unit mail clerks to pick up, the Soldiers are released to ready
themselves to "start" their 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. duty day.
For some of them it means driving to the other side of Uijeongbu and running the Camp Stanley post office.
"By 9:15 they are loading the mail truck that goes to Stanley and then at 9:30 on the dot they are rolling out," Letran said.
"I always harp on them that they can't be late," he said. "They have to have everything there and set up so they can open the doors on time -- our customers are counting on us."
"I love the customers," said Pvt. Kreshonda Smith, a postal clerk. "I love being able to help the customers and joke with them. The other week a lady came in and asked if her son would fit in the box. I told her he probably would, we would just have to poke holes in it."
For the postal clerks, their time at Camp Stanley is normally their only chance to help customers because at Camp Red Cloud two civilian employees have charge of receiving the mail from individual customers.
"We don't get as many customers at Stanley," said Smith. "So when a customer does come in it is a great thing and I light up being able to help them."
View more photos for the story at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usagrc/sets/72157630115503618/