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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — It was three days before Christmas, and the tractor-trailer backed into the post office on the Main Post here in Seoul barely held enough packages to make Santa’s sleigh sigh.

But 500 pounds of parcels is nothing to sneeze at, as the 8th Army’s commanders discovered Wednesday morning while helping the 516th Personnel Services Battalion sort some last-minute holiday mail.

Still, Wednesday’s delivery caused barely a bulge in Santa’s bag compared with the 80,000 pounds dispersed throughout South Korea in just one day last week, the most mail the 516th has had to handle in one day this holiday season, said Maj. Tanya Bradsher, a 516th company commander.

By the time packages meant for Yongsan — ZIP codes 96203, 96204, 96205 and 96206 — arrived on Main Post for the 5 a.m. delivery Wednesday, they filled two tractor-trailers.

“Every piece of mail is someone’s morale,” said Lt. Col Donald Howell, the battalion’s commander. “It’s very special, especially at Christmas time.”

Leading up to Christmas, the daily 5 a.m. shipments to Yongsan normally weigh about 3,000 pounds, Howell said.

Wednesday’s 500-pound batch was unloaded in less than 15 minutes, with help from 8th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell and 8th Army and Command Sgt. Major Troy Welch, the top enlisted officer in U.S. Forces Korea.

Campbell, Welch and officers from 8th Army Personnel Command donned Santa hats and followed directions from members of the 516th’s Delta Company. The commanders spent about a half an hour loading boxes onto conveyor belts, scanning labels into computers and putting individual letters in slots.

“It’s always uplifting, these great soldiers doing this great work,” Campbell said Wednesday, taking a break from stuffing envelopes into cubby holes.

Then he looked at a letter and asked 20-year-old Pfc. Anjelica Miranda, “1st Com?” She nodded and watched him put the letter in the appropriate slot.

Members of the 516th, like Miranda, will work Christmas Eve to ensure each piece of mail that arrives in South Korea by Friday will be distributed, Bradsher said. Three last-minute shipments will be flown to Taegu, Kimhae and Kwanju on Friday as well, she said.

“This time of the year, it’s tedious work,” said Col. Michael Harris, brigade commander for 8th Army’s personnel command and also postmaster general for the military in South Korea. “But we give them great service.”

The post office’s customer-service area on Main Post was renovated earlier this year, in part to allow for more cashiers and fewer lines. Harris said lines were pretty manageable on Main Post this year but admitted that boxes had stacked up in the lobby at the smaller post office on South Post.

“We’ll work on it,” he said.

The post offices on Yongsan will be closed on the Mondays following the next two holiday weekends, as well as the federal holidays set for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. But the soldiers who deliver mail still will be working Christmas Eve; they’ll take their day off on Monday.

That means the hard work for the 516th won’t end on Christmas Day. More last-minute packages will be waiting for them after the three-day weekend.

“Next Tuesday will be huge,” Bradsher said. “We’ll have three days’ worth of mail. We’re going to get slammed.”

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