BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Care packages, online orders and letters are the little things Airmen at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan look forward to while deployed. The 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron mail clerks work daily to boost morale by delivering little pieces of happiness for Airmen throughout the wing.
“My favorite part of the job is seeing people’s faces light up when they get mail,” said Senior Airman Victoria Hill, 455 ECS mail clerk deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri and a native of Blanchard, Louisiana.
Hill is one of two Airmen responsible for delivering mail to all Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. Although some of their normal duties at home station entail base records and data management, here they ensure timely mail delivery every day.
At 6 a.m. Senior Airmen Lorenza Kates and Victoria Hill start their day by coordinating transportation to pick up the mail tri-walls – pallet sized-boxes – from a centralized mail location.
“I report to work by 6 a.m. then pick up our forklift to lift tri-wall boxes,” said Kates who is deployed from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona and a native of Dublin, Georgia. “Then we make calls to figure out how many pallets we received for the day before we make our way to pick the mail up.”
After picking up mail and escorting it back to their office, Kates and Hill unload the pallets to sort it according to units. While one of mail clerks moves the pallets with a forklift, the other arranges them neatly into rows to make the sorting easier. They average 77 pallets of mail a week that amount to approximately 38,500 pounds.
“The most difficult part of the job is constantly being on the go,” said Hill. “It is heavy physical labor, we run around loading and unloading, but I really enjoy it.”
Once the packages are sorted, which takes about three hours depending on the number of tri-walls on that given day, Kates and Hill load their truck for mail delivery to mission essential organizations.
According to Hill, mission essential units are those unable to leave their work area during the day to pick up mail. Some of the units include special tactics, aeromedical evacuation, airfield operations and transient management.
After they spend time helping the other section and the morning routine is complete, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing postal center opens for customer service hours. During this time, mail representatives from every squadron in the wing are able to pick up their unit’s mail.
“During customer service hours we check 285’s which are cards that certify appointed individuals to pick up mail for their squadron,” said Kates. We have to monitor who picks up the mail. We have to ensure we are keeping up with mail center standards. Every hand that the mail touches should be recorded until it is received by the person it belongs to.”
Kates and Hill make certain every piece of mail reaches its destination. Whether it is a mission essential piece of equipment or a letter from a loved one, the mail clerks here deliver a piece of home to Airmen every day.
“We get the mission done here whether by keeping morale up or ensuring people can do their job by delivering what they need,” said Hill. “It’s pretty cool to say we are the only ones that deliver mail to all the Airmen from the wing.”