War on Terrorism

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mail Team Keeps Holiday Season Morale High in Iraq

By Army Sgt. David Hodge
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 12, 2008 - A team of certified mail handlers is helping to boost
morale for deployed soldiers by ensuring they receive their holiday care packages from family and friends back home. About a dozen soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team make up the "Raider" mail team.

With the holiday season at hand, post office operations are in full gear, with sometimes more than a dozen large boxes arriving at a time for a single soldier.

Mail operations have a serious affect on soldiers'
morale, Army Sgt. 1st Class Wanda Tapp-Kratzer, the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge, said. "With Christmas around the corner, it is important to get the soldiers their mail every day," she said.

The increased workload keeps the Raider mail team busy at all hours of the day, and the mailroom is open for business twice each day.

Army Sgt. Charles Kowalski, a certified mail handler and battle noncommissioned officer with the 1st BCT, works in the mailroom as an additional duty. At first, he said, he was doubtful about the extra work, but he soon realized the impact letters and packages have on soldiers. "People are happy when they get their mail," he said.

"The mail serves as a connection from home to a combat zone for a soldier," said
Army Sgt. Frederick Gregory, an infantryman from Houston assigned to the 1st BCT. "I love to boost morale, and morale makes soldiers work more proficiently while deployed to a combat zone."

Tapp-Kratzer said she is proud of the way the mail handlers have handled the increased workload.

"I've got all the mail handlers on the same sheet of music," she said. "They have done outstanding work."

Army Sgt. David Hodge serves in the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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