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Ramstein postal operations makes mail move

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Noah Coger
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany –

It’s no secret that the holidays at Ramstein Air Base bring increased traffic to postal operations. Family members in the U.S. are sending packages to loved ones, active duty members are ordering presents and taking advantage of Black Friday deals, and many are sending holiday greetings. Every year, the 786th Force Support Squadron postal clerks meet this surge head-on and do their best to ensure everyone gets their mail in time.

The onset of COVID-19 this year presented a unique set of circumstances for the post office. They have been in “holiday mode” since mid-April, with no signs of slowing down as they enter the holiday season.

“During the height of COVID-19 over the past year, the Northside Post Office saw a 61% increase for incoming packages,” said Tech. Sgt. Darren Hinds-Webster, 786th FSS official mail manager. “Between mid-April and May we saw the Postal Service Center deliver more than 90,000 packages.”

Germany’s lockdown measures earlier in the year saw many nonessential businesses close. This potentially prevented the spread of COVID-19, but had an inverse effect on mail flow, as many people turned to online shopping for various items. Those same measures required squadrons on Ramstein to find ways to operate with minimal manning.

During those two months, packages delivered to the Northside Post Office amounted to approximately the same number as last year’s holiday season. The post office not only had to navigate mitigating factors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also had to operate with limited manning while meeting the demands of increased operations.

“We understand the magnitude of our current climate,” Hinds-Webster said. “We understand that our customers rely on various essentials: voting ballots, credit cards and other personal communication. For that reason, telework is not an option for us.”

Despite COVID-19 challenges, the post office remains dedicated to ensure timely processing of packages, incoming and outgoing.

“As a postmaster, I enjoy serving our customers by delivering packages that are important to them,” said Master Sgt. Dandre Broderick, 786th FSS postmaster. “You never know what might be in that letter or parcel that can make someone’s day.”

To achieve this objective, the post office has four main sections split among 52 Airmen servicing more than 7,000 active mailboxes. They’re all working toward one goal: customer satisfaction.

The Postal Service Center consists of two smaller sections: Receipt and Dispatch, which is responsible for the receiving and delivery of all incoming personal mail; and Directory Service, which locates and re-routes first class mail with incorrect information that cannot be delivered as addressed.

The Customer Service team fields all service related issues that include in-and out-processing of P.O. boxes, package inquiries, and forwarding or holding of mail for members that are deployed or TDY. In addition, they also handle the general directory program, which allows service members that are deployed to Ramstein to receive mail.

The Official Mail Center operates the registered mail cage, which processes the most secure form of mail.

“Our main customers at the Official Mail Center include the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Medical Logistics, and personal registered packages,” Hinds-Webster said. “A lot of units use registered mail to send sensitive information because it is the best, most secure way to send mail. It’s guaranteed to have a hand-to-hand transaction and signature for that transaction, every step of the way.”

Official Mail also services 127 units on Ramstein. Their mobile distribution vehicles run three routes to hand-deliver to 85 of those units, Monday through Friday.

The last section, Finance and Package Shipping, helps customers fill out customs forms, send voting ballots, and ship packages to more than 420 locations stateside and overseas.

With all of the sections that the North Side Post Office maintains and tasks that those sections are responsible for, it’s Airmen are really the core of its operations.

“During the wake of COVID, they were dedicated to the mission,” Broderick said. “Keeping safety first, some volunteered to work on their days off and weekends, just to ensure we did not get too far behind. You cannot beat that dedication. As Postmaster, I feel that I work with 52 of the greatest professionals.”

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Diamond Durant, 786th Force Support Squadron military postal clerk, accepts parcel from a customer at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 28, 2020. Customer service is a vital part of postal operations and services roughly 300 customers daily. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Noah Coger)