POWIDZ, Poland –
Nothing - not even a worldwide pandemic – can stop the mail.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
These are the words chiseled in stone above the entrance to the USPS main headquarters in New York City. The same holds true with Army mail carriers.
“We kind of laugh about it, but it’s true – rain, snow, sleet, whatever, the mail is still going to go through,” Staff Sgt. Anita Moore, platoon sergeant for Third Platoon, 444th Human Resources Company out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said.
Moore’s platoon runs the Army Post Office at Powidz Air Base in Powidz, Poland. Though her platoon is in Poland, members of the 444th have been busy worldwide – deploying seven times in the last two years. The platoon of 19 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers receives daily mail truck deliveries of mail and packages from Germany. They hand-sort the mail, separating it by unit on the base camp. After sorting the mail, the 444th deliver each unit’s mail to clerks who deliver it to individual Soldiers at each unit’s mail room.
The 444th also delivers mail received at Powidz on ring routes to the nearby base camps at Poznan and Torun. They deliver the mail five days a week. Meanwhile, Soldiers on base can also stop by the post office to send mail and packages.
Two of the Soldiers from the 444th have civilian postal experience they bring to the team at Powidz.
Sgt. Brett McKee, from Baden, Pennsylvania, is the main mail clerk in the Rochester, Pennsylvania, post office. He has worked five years in the job and said he has tried to bring his “customer first” approach from his civilian to military job.
“My main drive for being postal, whether civilian or military, is my customer base,” McKee said. “Whenever I see my customer’s smile, it really brings a smile to my face.”
Working the window of the post office, McKee must deal with all types of people in different moods.
“You have to be a people person,” McKee said. “Just being able to deal with individuals – and you have to take each person individually – figure out how to deal with them – differentiate how do I deal with this person compared to the next.”
McKee said the experience of working with all different types of people and being able to help them send their mail has been rewarding. It led him to reclass from his prior Military Occupational Specialty of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle pilot to mirror his civilian occupation as a military postal worker. McKee picked up his new MOS in August.
Sgt. Amari Worthy, from Pittsburgh, is another civilian postal employee who recently joined the 444th. After serving on Active Duty at Fort Carson as a culinary specialist, Worthy got a job at the Pittsburgh post office where he worked in all areas – as a clerk, carrier and mailroom worker. Six months ago, he joined the 444th, and is now serving with them in Poland.
“I enjoyed Active Duty, but I also wanted to get back to civilian life and do other things,” Worthy said. “I didn’t want to stop serving in the military, so I decided to join the Reserve.”
He said the job is very similar in the Army, with the exception of hand-sorting the mail.
“I came here, and I was thinking to myself, how does this compare to my job back at home?” Worthy said. “Back home, the machine that we use to send the letter mail – it’s all automated. It’s very amazing to see in person. It’s just basically a machine where you load up the letters and then it just sorts it super-fast. That’s the main difference – here we do it all manually but we don’t receive that many letters, mainly just packages, and we have our units separated and we just come together as a team and sort it.”
“It’s a long process. So when you see your mailman and you just think, ‘Ok, this guy’s just delivering the mail,’ on the other side of the fence, there’s just so much to do with mail.”
Now, more than ever, as Soldiers and civilians are restricted from doing some of the things they used to do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the importance of the mail and the morale it brings is evident to the Soldiers of the 444th.
“I really got to see that the day before yesterday,” Moore said. “Someone received their mail and it was in a very nice shiny box. It just illuminated that person’s face – they were excited to have received it. We kind of laughed because we kind of had to just take a moment of just being excited that they received this mail. When you get a letter, you get anything, you feel important and valued and even if you ordered it, the fact that it has been sent to you and you got it.”