|Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
Even in the age of e-mail, Soldiers still look forward to
the pleasure of receiving correspondence through the “regular” mail,
which has brought cards, letters and packages to the troops throughout
Specialists Samantha Myers, left,
and Jennifer Athey, check some of the mail they were just given
by Fort McCoy Mobilization Mailroom Mail Clerks Mark Cayer,
third from left, and Dave Helgesen. Myers and Athey are unit
clerks with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion training to deploy in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
For mobilized troops at Fort McCoy, the mail process begins with
weekday mail calls at the Mobilization Mail Room in building 1868.
Mail is “very important,” according to Spc. Robert Bills, of the 328th
Engineer Company, an Army Reserve unit from New Jersey, preparing to
deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Everybody looks forward to mail,” Bills said. “After a long hard day at
work, to have words of encouragement from home, it helps you to look
forward to the next day.” Bills is a mechanic in the maintenance section
of the 328th, and has the additional duty as a mail clerk to pick up the
328th’s mail from the Mobilization Mailroom and take it back to his unit
Bills has the help of Spc. Hector Lopez, also a mechanic with the 328th.
“Mail helps motivate any Soldier,” Lopez said. “It helps to keep us
fighting. Cellphone and e-mail are not always available, and might not
be depending upon exactly where we are going.”
Both Soldiers noted the importance of the time-honored and proven “care
packages” Soldiers still get, “with good-tasting candies and snacks.”
Packages are also delivered to the mobilization mailroom on weekdays.
Dave Helgesen and Mark Cayer are the mail clerks who operate the Fort
McCoy Mobilization Mailroom. Helgesen has been at the mobilization
mailroom since it opened in October 2003. Cayer has worked there three
Helgesen and Cayer receive the letters and packages, sort them and place
them into wood crates, each crate with the mob unit’s number-name on it.
The wood crates were used by the Fort McCoy laundry in the 1940s, and
still are in excellent condition.
“The mail is a morale booster,” Helgesen said. “It keeps the connection
with Families and friends. My mother sent me a care package once a week
the year I was in Greenland with the U.S. Air Force.”
Cayer said, “The mail is the Soldiers’ connection with the world.”
“Our Soldiers are going into harm’s way,” Cayer said, “and they deserve
mail service wherever they are in the world, and that includes while
they are mobilizing at Fort McCoy. We always see smiles on the faces of
the unit clerks and orderlies coming to pick up the mail for their
units. They are never grumpy.”
“Just because Soldiers are mobilizing doesn’t mean birthdays and
anniversaries stop,” Cayer said. “And there are always the care
packages. We also get a lot of mail and packages from Family support
groups to individual Soldiers and units.”