Postal facts and tidbits

PTF Clerk

Despite the availability of electronic communication, mail remains relevant to servicemen and women. Packages can be sent simply with domestic U.S. package rates, and mail reaches military personnel serving in places where phone and Internet communications are unavailable.
Modern mail transportation has been made efficient through computer tracking, containerized mail shipping, and cooperation with the United States Armed Forces to continue bringing mail to service personnel in bases and outposts around the world.  Mail delivered to APO/AE addresses is sent at domestic rates, so even if your family member or friend is in Iraq, Germany, or any other country or ship around the world, it is affordable and easy to send a package. Deadlines are fast approaching for holiday delivery. Stop in to see us if you have any questions.
Aboard a ship or in the back of a truck, military post offices abroad strive to provide the same services found at home. Facilities are often cramped but can handle a huge amount of mail. Today, military personnel who handle mail must be authorized and trained to do so in accordance with Postal Service and Department of Defense regulations. Working in a war zone and screening for hazardous contents in parcels can be dangerous, but workers get to see the positive effect mail has on their comrades.
Brigadier General Sean J. Byrne in 2003 said, “Few things impact a unit’s morale more than mail … letters are not left behind on a nightstand or on a cot when soldiers go into battle. They are taken along and read over and over. A small piece of correspondence from home means the world to these brave young men and women who fight for freedom.”
Mail call  will always have a special impact for those men and women who serve in the U.S. military. Mail has been a morale  booster for our troops from as early as the Revolutionary War. Delivering mail in war zones is fraught with difficulty. During the American Revolution, postal couriers scoured the countryside to find George Washington’s elusive army so the men fighting for their new country could receive news of home to bolster and encourage them. Newspapers and official communiqués dispatched in the mail were essential for leaders of the American Revolution.
During the Civil War mail was discontinued to the southern states and southern postage was not recognized by the Union postal department. Mail service was not reinstated in the south until the resolve of the Civil War, and it was a slow process. 
Some mail still went through and was vital to the soldiers. Hermon Clarke, a Union soldier encamped at Bermuda Hundred in the South, is quoted in a letter to his father in June 1864, “We have moved so often that letters couldn’t find us. Write often, and I will run the risk of getting the letters.”
The U.S. Postal Department and the U.S. military have always worked together by any means possible to deliver the mail to soldiers. During World War II they created the 6,888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only unit of African-American women in the still segregated U.S. Army, to serve overseas during World War II. The women found mail stacked to the ceiling of the postal facility when they arrived in England in early 1945. The battalion worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide mail to military personnel in Europe, making a valuable contribution to victory.
In the Vietnam War, they experimented with special indestructible sacks to air drop mail to troops stationed in the forward-most positions. Unfortunately, the only material they had blended so well with the jungle that the sacks were hard to find.
If you are interested in writing to a soldier or sending care packages, let us know. Also, if you are interested, the Library of Congress is collecting veterans’ letters from the past for a special Veterans’ History Project. More information on the cooperation of the U.S. mail and U.S. military is available on the Smithsonian website at


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