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Europe’s largest Army post office hustles to keep up with holiday mail

Ken Norton, an employee at the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden postal operations center, sorts packages meant for the Middle East, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. Wiesbaden, Germany, is the sole military mail exchange in Europe, and it often forwards packages to more distant bases.

DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 16, 2016

WIESBADEN, Germany — The holiday season is the time of year when military families in Germany probably feel most acutely the long distance from loved ones back home in the States.

Some three dozen employees at Wiesbaden postal operations center on Clay Kaserne help make home seem a little closer.

“It’s the Super Bowl, the World Series, it’s the main event,” Wiesbaden postmaster James E. McKee Jr. said of the holiday rush. “It’s really what they pay us for.”

The post office routinely receives and sends two times its normal mail load during the holiday season, which begins in November.

“We receive about 2,000 to 4,000 pieces a day, and we will send out maybe 200 to 300 a day normally,” said Quintin Harvey, the postal center’s wage supervisor. “You can double that during the Christmas season.”

The 38 regular employees — including four who work remotely from Giessen and Darmstadt — are being augmented during the holidays by 10 temporary hires, who will assist until the end of the year. The workload is still constant.

“It’s the exact same concept as every other time of year, but the volume is much more,” McKee said. “Wiesbaden is the largest single Army post office in Europe, and we’re also the only exchange office in Europe, so we handle all the mail that is dispersed all throughout Europe and the Middle East.”

Six employees work full time in the exchange office, which forwards mail to locations in Kuwait, Bahrain and elsewhere. Their load likewise increases during the holidays as family members ship care packages to deployed loved ones.

Those stationed in Wiesbaden can help make things run more smoothly by keeping up with their mail and checking it at least once a week, McKee said.

stoutamire.dan@stripes.com
 

Andreas Seelinger, a clerk at the postal operations center at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, reads off an address for logging into the computer system at the facility at Clay Kaserne on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

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