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Staff Sgts. Aaron Kain, left, and Darian Lira of the RAF Mildenhall post office.
Staff Sgts. Aaron Kain, left, and Darian Lira of the RAF Mildenhall post office. (Geoff Ziezulewicz/S&S)

The holiday season is in full effect, and there’s only about a week left before the big Dec. 25! But there’s still so much to do. Have you even mailed those gifts yet? Have the folks back home sent you your swag?

Either way, the men and women at the Mildenhall post office have you covered. Stars and Stripes sat down with Staff Sgts. Darian Lira and Aaron Kain — who’s actually from North Pole, Alaska — to get the lowdown on keeping those mail parcels moving.

So over the holidays, is it getting a bit more hectic here?

Lira: "Definitely. The mail totals have already doubled, in terms of mail volume. As of the 11th of November, it was already 471 pieces. This month, it’s already 936 pieces as of Dec. 9. It’s already doubled up."

How does this change your operations? Do you do things differently?

Kain: "With all the inbound mail, we usually cope with it a little better by splitting up shifts. Normally we don’t have enough people for two shifts, but during Christmas with the hiring of five civilians we’re able to sustain two shifts. So we actually have a night shift that comes in and processes a truck. They’ll actually write up all the parcels and get them on the shelf. That way we can get the slips in the box. So first thing in the morning we can start getting the shelf space back. During the daytime, we handle all the packages and deal with all the pitchables.

What’s pitchables?

Kain: "Just first class, second class, magazines; that stuff’s already gone through the roof this week."

So I’ve yet to mail out anything. Am I totally screwed at this point in terms of getting gifts back under the stateside tree by Dec. 25?

Lira: "No you’re not screwed. You’re never screwed as long as the mail’s moving. Until that last two to three days, then you’re pretty much screwed. Express mail is probably your best bet."

Kain: "Priority right now, you’re gambling."

How long does that take?

Lira: "It’s guaranteed three-day service."

Personally, what’s the best gift you’ve ever received in the mail?

Kain: "I’d probably say a homemade fleece blanket. It was my first year here. Before this, I was at South Carolina so I didn’t need any blankets. You need all the warmth you can get over here!"

Lira: "Probably mine’s just photos from home."

What are you hoping to get this year for gifts?

Kain: "I’m like the hardest guy to shop for. I never know what the heck I want."

Lira: "I’m not too picky. My wife says she’s getting me a Wii, so we’ll see what happens."

Kain: "I’d probably just say some games for the Xbox."

Lira: "The prime gift though would be a 2009 Charger. That might have to be my own gift to myself."

— Geoff Ziezulewicz

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