By Spearhead Staff
Delivering letters and packages in rain, snow, sleet and even
in the dark of night is a routine job for members of the 795th
Postal Company, but few thought they would be doing it in the
deserts of Northern Saudi Arabia.
"So far, we're getting the rain and dark of night,"
said SgL 1st Class Richard L. Roberts of 4th Platoon, 795th Postal
Company, an Army Reserve unit from Belton, Mo. "But we hadn't
counted on the adverse weather conditions and difficulty in maintaining
a logistical chain to keep the mail flowing."
The postal tent at the 3rd Armored Division Rear is easily
recognized by the flood of activity that surrounds it 24 hours
a day. There is a seemingly endless flow of trucks carrying pallets
of packages and mail. Volunteers from all across the compound
surrender their free time to help unload and sort mail.
"I think it's great," said Spec. Mark Beny of A
Battery, 40th Field Artillery. "Mail is really the greatest
morale builder there is. I'll gladly volunteer as much time as
possible to see that it's delivered."
Even with volunteers, the working hours for the men and women
of the 795th are exhausting. "We usually work 10 or 12 hours
and then take eight off for sleep, personal hygiene and letter
writing," said Roberts. "Then we're back on top of
"We expect the hours to taper off as soon as this backlog
of mafl is delivered," he said with relief.
"As of January 2nd we've delivered 80,000 letters and
13,400 boxes and packages. Outgoing letters number 87,000 and
560 packages," Roberts said.
The five platoons of the 795th Postal Company are commanded
by 1st Lt. Elizabeth Richardson, who is with two of the company's
platoons on duty with the 1st Armored Division. The other two
platoons are assigned elsewhere within the Theater of Operations.
The 4th Platoon, assigned to support the 3rd Armored Division,
is commanded by 1st Lt. Brent Jackson. "We arrived in Saudi
Arabia on the 16th of December," Jackson said. "Morale
was beginning to ebb a little during and just after the holidays,
but we started getting some mail of our own and everyone's attitude
Jackson said the average age of the soldiers in his unit is
19.5 years old. But Jackson said, "They're gaining maturity
every day, despite less than optimum working conditions, plus
inadequate supplies and transportation systems."
"We understand that the Army's first concern has to be
'beans and bullets' for the front line troops, so we do the best
job we can with the equipment we have."
Of course, all the letters coming out of Operation Desert
Storm is postage free. However, packages going back to the United
States require postage. "We have a system for handling non-
appropriated funds," said Roberts. "We collect money
for stamps and turn it over to finance. They, in turn, give us
a check, which is used to buy more stamps from the post office.
"We operate under United States postal regulations and
much of our equipment is on loan from them. With the amount of
certified and insured mail, we have to be very careful with security.
It's necessary to post a full-time guard on the mail to ensure
delivery," Roberts said.
"I think these guys are doing a wonderful job,"
said Chief Warrant Officer Danny Thompson, HHC 4th Battalion,
8th Infantry. "A friend of mine received mail from his wife
and kids despite having the package becoming accidentally soaked
with rain. The box fell apart but the contents were placed into
a plastic bag and delivered intact."
"We were all overwhelmed by the attention these people
put into doing their jobs well."