(Reprinted with permission)
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE TINDAL, Australia (Sept. 26, 2006) -- From the cool inside of a bunker a lone postal clerk operates a U.S. Post Office, providing services to Marines participating in Exercise Southern Frontier.
The Marines, deployed to Australia for the exercise, had the option of forwarding mail here, and can send mail back to Japan, using the Military Postal Service. MPS is free to service members and dependants, and is a good way to keep in touch while on deployment.
"My main goal is their morale," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin J. Hughett, Combat Logistics Company 36 postal clerk and native of Maryville, of what he considers his duty here. The postal services bring motivation to the Marines normally stationed in Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Hughett explained.
"For example, I got a postcard from my brother. It made me happy, which actually made me work a little bit harder," smiled Hughett.
Most servicemembers have used MPS mail to keep in touch with their families and to mail back souvenirs.
"I know the kids are happy when they check the mail and they get a card from me," said Gunnery Sgt. Zorina M. Wilson, Marine Aircraft Group 12 detachment gunnery sergeant and native of Jacksonville, Fla.
Wilson said, in return her family has sent her toothpaste, hair gel and other personal products, "stuff that is too expensive to buy out here."
Aside from the benefit of receiving letters, the postal service makes it easier for Marines to take care of their bills.
"Its essential to stay on top of your personal responsibilities while on deployment," said Wilson, who explained money matters cant always be handled through an email.
Getting mail out has not been easy. To mail back packages Hughett has procured boxes from local businesses, and the occasional dumpster, and provides tape. He also conducts mail-calls for the shift-worker Marines and regularly posts a list in the barracks and mess hall of the box numbers which have forwarded mail here.
But the effort does not go unnoticed. Hughett has gotten a "pretty good" response from the Marines who come in to the post office.
"(Letters) definitely mean the world. Especially if its a
letter from your mom or your brother or other siblings, it makes
feel good," said Hughett.