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One of the last things soldiers returning from Iraq should have to worry about is whether their personal gear gets home safely through the U.S. mail.

Even if they’re not American soldiers.

Eight boxes, weighing about 300 pounds and mailed by Italian soldiers from a U.S. military post office somewhere in Iraq, are on their way home after military postal clerks at the Navy’s Fleet Mail Center in Rome intercepted the boxes on their way to the States and gave them a helping hand to their Italian destinations.

“One was going to Palermo [Sicily], one was going to Trieste,” explained Petty Officer 1st Class Stanley Robinson, the center’s leading petty officer. “We got a phone call to intercept the boxes and put them into the Italian postal system.”

This isn’t normal procedure for items mailed to non-U.S. locations, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Randy Garcia, the unit’s officer in charge.

The boxes, had they not been removed from the other mail, would have had a much longer journey. The packages were on their way to the United States. They would have been shipped first to Frankfurt, Germany, and eventually would have made their way to the Italian postal system.

Garcia said that by intercepting the boxes, they saved the soldiers between 90 and 120 days of mailing time.

Though the boxes were large, the clerks had to find them in the more than 15,000 pounds of mail that comes in on an average day at their Leonardo Da Vinci Airport facility.

Who the Italian soldiers are, or what unit they’re with, the sailors, Marines and one civilian assigned to the center don’t know.

“Nah, I don’t know anything about them, except they were there,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jermaine Kelley said. “We’re all soldiers fighting in the same war, with the same mission. If I can assist … even if it’s for another country’s soldiers, it’s our duty.”

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