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Senior Airman Gregory Howard, a postal services center clerk at Misawa Air Base, Japan, unloads holiday packages Monday afternoon at Misawa’s post office.
Senior Airman Gregory Howard, a postal services center clerk at Misawa Air Base, Japan, unloads holiday packages Monday afternoon at Misawa’s post office. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Haven’t mailed those Christmas packages yet? There’s still time to get them there before Dec. 25, but the clock is ticking.

The guaranteed deadline for Express Mail packages to the States is Friday for all Pacific locations, said Master Sgt. Alfred Wilhite, Misawa Air Base postmaster. For Priority Mail and first-class letters and cards, the deadline was Dec. 5.

“That’s a guess-estimate,” Wilhite said, noting delivery speeds depends on several factors, including destination and mail volume going to the United States. Mail from Japan destined for the States is flown out of Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to gateway cities Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Mail earmarked for those locations should get there pretty quickly, Wilhite said.

“Everything that leaves here flies; no boats,” the postmaster said. “If there are no backlogs, it flies next day” to the U.S. after departing Misawa.

Misawa’s post office is open an extra 24 hours per week during the holiday mail rush, but some of those additional hours end next week. The post office annex for mailing packages at the base exchange is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The last day is Saturday. Only credit and debit cards are accepted.

The finance window in the post office for mailing packages and buying stamps won’t be open Mondays starting next week. That service was available only on Mondays during the holiday season’s busiest mailing weeks.

The pick-up window will continue to be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m., until Jan. 15. Wilhite reminded customers that the post office receives mail three times a day — 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. — and that all mail is processed and pitched the same day.

Airman Andrew Stewart, a postal services center clerk, said one truckload of mail averages between 100 and 200 packages. “It’s keeping us really busy,” he said.

The post office is augmenting its permanent active-duty and civilian staff during the holiday with 16 “over hires” and two National Guard members. But volunteers are needed from Sunday to Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Wilhite said. To volunteer, call Tech. Sgt. Frederick Jackson at DSN 226-9326. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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