MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation team and the 35th Force Support Squadron post office joined forces to ensure mail operations continue through COVID-19 at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
Prior to COVID-19, the Misawa Post Office operated with a staff of 30 personnel all trained to receive, dispatch, process, scan and store mail. Postal clerks previously made three daily runs to Misawa airport to retrieve packages for Team Misawa members, allowing postal clerks to process mail throughout the day.
Over the course of the last few months, postal operations gradually slowed down because of decreased number of stateside flights and Misawa airport's suspension of flights, redirecting mail to Aomori airport.
“Due to the distance and amount of mail that needed to be picked up, we were in need of support, which was when the 35th Logistic Readiness Squadron stepped in,” said Master Sgt. Timeeka McFadden, the 35th FSS postal operations superintendent.
Not just any truck would be able to make this mission happen; on a weekly basis, the post office processes 7,000 to 10,000 pounds of mail. However, the LRS team was able to meet the need.
“Every day one of our drivers teams up with a postal clerk, and the two head to Aomori to pick up the mail together," said Capt. Rahal Belkalai, the 35th LRS deployment and distribution flight commander.
In addition to the daily runs, every couple of days a postal clerk processes outgoing mail, loads it on a truck and delivers it to Aomori Airport for dispatch.
“The biggest challenge has been maintaining the integrity of our work ethic while social distancing, said McFadden. “We have become stronger as a team with one goal in mind. Everyone from Airmen to our Japanese nationals have all stepped in to make sure we operate under USPS guidelines in a timely manner.”
This is the first time LRS aided in postal operations. Typically, LRS works with other sections of FSS, such as the installation deployment readiness cell and installation personnel readiness section to ensure the successful deployment of personnel.
“Working alongside the postal crew has been a positive experience,” said Staff Sgt. Colin Saleet, a 35th LRS NCO-in charge of equipment support. “It is always enjoyable to work with another unit outside of your own. It allows us to see a glimpse into post office’s operations, and what it takes to keep the mail flowing for Team Misawa. I am happy to be apart of the operation that sustains morale for our wing during the COVID-19 time.”