No mail, no morale
By Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 21, 2013
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- There was a time when receiving an email was new and exciting, but because of the rise of text messaging, Facebook and other forms of instant messaging, an older form of communication is making a comeback.
"Email is faster but hand-written letters mean so much more," said Senior Airman Justin Czarnecki, 51st Comptroller Squadron financial services technician. "Since I've been overseas, I've been writing my grandma letters and she always tells me how much it means to her. She doesn't really use her computer, so the letters are really the only way to stay in contact with her. It means a lot to me to be able to send and receive personal letters and items here."
Czarnecki is one of more than 11,000 U.S. Forces Korea personnel and retirees that utilize the Osan Post Office, whose mission statement is "No mail, no morale."
"We firmly believe that mail plays a key part in our service member's morale," said James Groff, 51st Communications Squadron postmaster. "As you know, most people here are serving one-year rotations, so not only do our customers change, but so do our postal clerks."
Fortunately for the post office and its customers, the constant personnel changeover hasn't affected their operations, as evident by them winning the Best Post Office in the Air Force Award for 2012.
"Our team delivers about 3 million pounds of mail a year," Groff said. "We couldn't have been as successful without the great team work that's exhibited here on a daily basis. I do believe people think that their packages mysteriously show up in their mail boxes and really don't know how it gets there. There's a lot that goes into getting someone a letter or package."
Most of the work that goes into getting a letter or package from one point to another occurs behind the scenes, said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Thomas, 51st CS postal service center NCO in charge.
"A lot of people tell me they appreciate what we do, and they'll say 'it's got to be rough back there,'" Thomas said. "In the morning we typically come in around 6:20 and the first truck comes in about 6:30. We'll unload it and it's usually around 200 pieces, which doesn't include the bags of mail that may contain several boxes. Mondays and Wednesdays are usually our busiest days - Mondays because we get two days' worth of mail and Wednesdays are our bulk mail day. "
After receiving and unloading the mail they receive, it still has to be tagged and shelved before tickets can be printed for customer pickup.
Because of their workload, Thomas constantly stresses two big points.
"People need to check their mail often," he said. "Per regulations we can only hold it for so many days, so you don't want your mail being sent back. We also have a volunteer program that I would encourage anyone thinking about it to come help us out."
Overall, working at the post office is both personally and professionally rewarding, Thomas said.
"Being a special duty, this job is different because everybody comes from different bases and different career fields, which is good because they bring a different perspective," Thomas said. "It's also very personally satisfying to see the customers' faces when they get a package they've been waiting for."