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379th ECS post office Airmen push parcels

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cynthia A. Innocenti
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar— In an effort to provide military personnel, their families and other authorized users mail services wherever they may be, the military postal service, an extension of the U.S. Postal Service, is operated by military personnel around the world.


Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron post office provide prominent parcel shipment and processing services to personnel at Al Udeid.


“There is more to a post office than most might think,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer D. Riley-Almanzar, the 379th ECS postmaster.


Post office Airmen maintain operations in five different sections: finance, receipt and dispatch, military control activity, official mail center and the parcel service center.


In the finance section, Airmen are responsible for properly inspecting and securing the letters or packages personnel intend to ship. They also help determine what forms need to be filled out in relation to the parcel’s intended destination and apply the proper postage.


Airmen in the receipt and dispatch section scan and sort the mail by size and destination. There are only a certain amount of gateways, also known as hubs, that mail can be sent to the U.S. through and this section must determine the appropriate route for mail to arrive at its intended destination.


“If the packages aren’t sorted correctly they will end up in the wrong location,” explained Senior Airman Jamal Jenkins, a postal clerk with the 379th ECS. “Also, what our customers appreciate the most is the real time tracking this section enables.”


The military control activity center exports mail by loading it into trucks, transporting it to the aerial port of debarkation for customs clearance, and then transporting it to the airport for country customs clearance and shipment. This section also has to pick up incoming parcels from the airport, transport it to the post office, unload and sort it.


“They are the hard laborers of the office,” said Staff Sgt. Ashley Petersen, a postal clerk with the 379th ECS. “Every day, they unload, load, unload, and load again; sometimes parcels as heavy as 70 pounds.”


The last manned section is the official mail center where the packages are organized and sorted by unit. The majority of mail that comes through the post office are personal packages that have to be divided up by their corresponding unit.


“There is so much mail processing through here daily,” said Riley-Almanzar. “In the past six months the official mail center has processed 50,000 pieces of mail weighing approximately 1.6 million pounds.”


The Airmen at the post office also maintain the parcel service center section, which is a rarity for deployed locations. Authorized members are given a P.O. box for personal mail giving them the option of picking up their own letters and packages.


Jenkins said even though this office is really busy, especially during the holidays, he is thankful for the experience.


“This is actually my first deployment and I am glad I got to experience it here,” said Jenkins. “Some customers really brighten your day and sometimes I get to brighten their day.”