Kadena crew wins top PACAF postal honors
Stars and Stripes March 16, 2006
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Master Sgt. Robert Hall knows how to move mail. Two to three tons of airmail arrives daily on Okinawa, and within 24 hours it’s scanned, sorted and sitting in base postal boxes.
Hall and his crew of 25 military and 10 Japanese national workers are considered so good at what they do they’ve been named the top Pacific Air Forces Aerial Mail Terminal of the Year for 2005.
“It’s a credit to everyone who works here,” said Hall, the detachment chief for Detachment 3, PACAF Air Postal Squadron. “We’re extremely proud. It’s the first time we’ve received the award in the past five years.”
Almost all of the mail sent to Okinawa bases from the United States is handled by air, flown by commercial U.S. carriers from San Francisco to Tokyo or Osaka and then by Japanese airlines to the detachment’s terminal at Naha International Airport.
The mail is separated there for the Marine Corps’ handling facility on Camp Kinser or the detachment’s Kadena terminal. On Kadena, Hall’s crew then processes the mail and ships it out to post offices on Kadena, White Beach, Camp Shields and Camp Lester.
Every Tuesday, they do the same for space-available mail that arrives by ship.
“One of the reasons we won this year is because we’ve made many of PACAF’s firsts,” Hall said. That includes the latest in X-ray technology — a $45,000, state-of-the-art machine that Hall said “adds security for the entire island.”
The Air Force requires a facility screen a minimum of 20 percent of incoming mail, Hall said.
“We scan 100 percent of our mail,” he said.
Most of the mail passes through the new machine without a second look. It’s been a while since customs checks of the mail picked up dangerous contraband.
“Most of the contraband we find now are just regular counterfeit items people mail from Korea,” which are seized by Japanese customs, he said.
Besides winning the AMT award, several of the detachment’s workers received individual awards.
Seiji Minei was named the outstanding civilian assistant of the year, Senior Airman Marquia Rivera was named the outstanding airman and Staff Sgt. Richard G. Balanon was named the noncommissioned officer of the year.