KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Many islanders can attest that receiving mail in the middle of the Pacific is not the easiest endeavor. Now with the constant struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Okinawa have experienced further complications with receiving mail.
Kadena Air Base’s 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron ground transportation personnel found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place to meet soaring mail demands. Despite the increased strain, the section rose to the occasion and brought in one of the largest mail shipments for Okinawa on July 31.
With one Boeing 747, the 18th LRS was able to move over 53 thousand kilograms of mail according to Patrick Hirata, 18th LRS ground transportation specialist.
“There's a learning curve, but this process is effective and I think it will only be improved upon,” said Tech. Sgt. Monty Baz, 18th LRS ground transportation chief dispatcher. “We’re a very small team single handedly serving 11 installations’ mail on the island within a few hours.”
The 18th LRS developed new processes to help overcome obstacles, allowing massive shipments of mail to be delivered in a much shorter time frame.
“We’re collecting the mail centrally at Kadena Air Base, rather than driving to and from Naha to keep the driving times down and save a few hours,” said Staff. Sgt. Jonathan Will, 18th LRS assistant NCO in charge of ground transportation training validation and operations.
To keep up with receiving a plethora of mail at a faster rate, the 18th LRS called upon the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron and Marines from Camp Kinser to lend a hand.
“The 733rd AMS Airmen were offloading the pallets for us and we had to assemble additional Airmen and Marines to act as ground handlers to assist with the operation,” Hirata said. “We had to physically break down the mail and load them onto trailers to transport around the island.”
This cooperation and interoperability allowed the services to handle the larger shipments of mail more efficiently, providing packages that could be critical for the morale and welfare of active duty members and their families.
“We hope people will feel better about ordering stuff and receiving mail,” Will said. “We're moving mail for every installation more efficiently and this will benefit every Status of Force Agreement member on the island.”