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Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, a postal clerk at Osan Air Base, South Korea, hefts a package being picked up by customers at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces command based on volume of mail handled and number of postal staffers available to handle it. The post office earned an "outstanding" on a PACAF annual inspection earlier this week.
Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, a postal clerk at Osan Air Base, South Korea, hefts a package being picked up by customers at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces command based on volume of mail handled and number of postal staffers available to handle it. The post office earned an "outstanding" on a PACAF annual inspection earlier this week. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, a postal clerk at Osan Air Base, South Korea, hefts a package being picked up by customers at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces command based on volume of mail handled and number of postal staffers available to handle it. The post office earned an "outstanding" on a PACAF annual inspection earlier this week.
Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, a postal clerk at Osan Air Base, South Korea, hefts a package being picked up by customers at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces command based on volume of mail handled and number of postal staffers available to handle it. The post office earned an "outstanding" on a PACAF annual inspection earlier this week. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
Senior Airman Delia Menchaca looks carefully for a package a customer has come to pick up at the post office on Osan Air Base in South Korea.
Senior Airman Delia Menchaca looks carefully for a package a customer has come to pick up at the post office on Osan Air Base in South Korea. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
At Osan Air Base, South Korea, Airman Anthony Powell takes from the shelf a parcel being picked up by a customer waiting at the service window.
At Osan Air Base, South Korea, Airman Anthony Powell takes from the shelf a parcel being picked up by a customer waiting at the service window. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
Airmen at the post office on Osan Air Base, South Korea, wait on customers picking up packages and other mail Thursday afternoon. The base, which received an "outstanding" rating on an annual Pacific Air Forces inspection earlier this week, is the busiest within PACAF based on the amount of mail processed and the number of postal staffers available to process it. At left is Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, at right Airman Anthony Powell, both postal clerks with the 51st Communications Squadron.
Airmen at the post office on Osan Air Base, South Korea, wait on customers picking up packages and other mail Thursday afternoon. The base, which received an "outstanding" rating on an annual Pacific Air Forces inspection earlier this week, is the busiest within PACAF based on the amount of mail processed and the number of postal staffers available to process it. At left is Senior Airman Delia Menchaca, at right Airman Anthony Powell, both postal clerks with the 51st Communications Squadron. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
At Osan Air Base, South Korea, Airman Anthony Powell waits on a customer at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces based on the total volume of mail processed and the number of postal staffers available to process it.
At Osan Air Base, South Korea, Airman Anthony Powell waits on a customer at the base post office, which is the busiest within Pacific Air Forces based on the total volume of mail processed and the number of postal staffers available to process it. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — If you ask Airman Anthony Powell what makes the post office here the busiest within the Pacific Air Forces command, he can tell you about this past Monday morning.

Powell opened the commercial service window at 10 a.m. and saw what looked like half the U.S. Marine Corps waiting to ship souvenirs and other items home by the box load.

“You got five Marines in a row that are sending off packages to home,” he said.

They and other servicemembers in the line had gone shopping at the popular Songtan shopping district that thrives just outside the main gate, said Powell.

“Anytime we get other people from other bases here … they want to shop down at Osan,” he said. “We’ll get slammed. They gave us a run every day … Once you see the line out the door, it’s on … it’s a non-stop go. That means you’re gonna have a busy day.”

But servicemembers shipping Songtan purchases are hardly the only source of mail volume here.

With a staff of 21 airmen and 15 South Korean employees, the base moved 404,000 pounds of incoming mail and sent out another 360,000 pounds just from January through March, said 1st Lt. Jennifer Haney, support flight commander with the 51st Communications Squadron.

In 2003, staff moved 1.5 million pounds in and the same volume out and processed $1.9 million in transactions — everything from stamps to shipping charges. The post office averages about 9,500 customers per month, Haney said.

The claim to being the busiest within PACAF is based on the volume of mail that moves in and out and the number of staffers available to move it, said Haney.

And the post office received an “outstanding” earlier this week when a PACAF Inspector General’s team wrapped up an annual inspection.

“While this operation is challenged with yearly rotations of personnel with little or no postal experience,” the inspectors wrote, “assigned personnel demonstrated an immense amount of dedication, self-sacrifice, and a lot of teamwork to handle and keep pace with the busy workload.”

“We support approximately 10,000 people” who are a regular part of the base community, said Haney, 7,400 of whom have individual mailboxes.

Another 7,000 transient customers need mail service during the year, many of them troops — like the Marines Powell waited on earlier this week — who’ve come to the base on temporary duty, Haney said.

A 2001 chart — the most recent available — showed Misawa Air Base in Japan with a total mail volume of 2.9 million pounds; Yokota Air Base, also in Japan, with 2.3 million pounds; Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, at 1.2 million pounds and Osan Air Base at 3.4 million pounds, Haney said. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa handled 5.2 million pounds but unlike the others, she said, Kadena’s post office handles mail not only for the Air Force but for other services including the Marines and Army.

Given the challenges of handling such high volume per staff member, said Haney, news of the outstanding rating from PACAF has left people “ecstatic,” and they plan to celebrate Wednesday with a barbecue.

“I am very proud of them,” said Haney.

“I see what they do every day and I couldn’t be happier. We know how hard they work, and it’s usually a very thankless job.”

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