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You've got mail: Aviano Post Office Airmen stay rapidly ready

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 31st Force Support Squadron sort mail, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 31st Force Support Squadron sort mail, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st FSS is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Dylan Cooper, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, poses for a picture as he places a package on a shelf, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Cooper scanned and labeled various packages from an early morning shipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Dylan Cooper, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, poses for a picture as he places a package on a shelf, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Cooper scanned and labeled various packages from an early morning shipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Packages sit on shelves Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. One shipment from a semi-truck may contain about 2,000 to 5,000 packages per day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Packages sit on shelves Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. One shipment from a semi-truck may contain about 2,000 to 5,000 packages per day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Selena Hernandez, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, sorts packages from an early morning shipment, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Hernandez unloaded mail from a semi-truck that came in around five in the morning. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Selena Hernandez, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, sorts packages from an early morning shipment, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Hernandez unloaded mail from a semi-truck that came in around five in the morning. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Valeriano DeLeon III, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, labels packages to be placed on the shelf from an early morning shipment, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. DeLeon worked the first morning shift where they unloaded a semi-truck of mail. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Valeriano DeLeon III, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, labels packages to be placed on the shelf from an early morning shipment, Aug. 2, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. DeLeon worked the first morning shift where they unloaded a semi-truck of mail. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Mafaolo Tafaovale, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, locates a customer’s package, Aug. 1, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Tafaovale improved the community’s quality of life and service by helping customers with their packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Airman 1st Class Mafaolo Tafaovale, a military postal clerk from the 31st Force Support Squadron, locates a customer’s package, Aug. 1, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Tafaovale improved the community’s quality of life and service by helping customers with their packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

A call bell sits next to two United States postal service trays for help and service from the military postal clerks from the 31st Force Support Squadron Aug. 1, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st Force Support Squadron is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

A call bell sits next to two United States postal service trays for help and service from the military postal clerks from the 31st Force Support Squadron Aug. 1, 2019, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 31st Force Support Squadron is the 31st Fighter Wing's largest and most diverse squadron, comprised of more than 600 military and civilian personnel whose primary mission is to enhance combat capability, readiness, and quality of life for a community of nearly 10,000 military members, DoD civilians, local national employees, and dependents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --

***DO NOT REPLY- This is an unmonitored email address***

A package has arrived at the Aviano Air Base Post Office addressed to you.

 

Reading the above email notification is one of the last steps before you are able to pick up your package, which you may have ordered 4-8 weeks ago. The rush of excitement may cause you to constantly look at the clock, counting down the seconds before you are able to pick it up!

But did you ever wonder how it got here? You might think it gets on one truck, but would you believe it gets on at least three different planes and one colossal semi-truck before it ever gets on a shelf?

“All the mail goes to a sorting facility in Chicago, then it goes through the [O'Hare International Airport] airport in Chicago,” said Staff Sgt. Mathew Brown, 31st Force Support Squadron Post Office noncommissioned officer in charge of receiving and dispatch, Aviano Air Base, Italy. “Then it gets on an airplane to London, Heathrow, and then it takes another plane down to Milan where it’s unloaded again on to the back of a semi-truck and then we unload it here.”

The post office serves about 10,000 people, which means a consistently high operations tempo.

“Out of the major post offices in USAFE, we are the second largest,” said Brown. “Our tempo is pretty high, especially during the holiday season.”

At 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, several large purple and dark blue bags get unloaded.

“Every morning a semi-truck comes and we unload the mail,” said Brown. “It ranges from 500 pieces which are in bags and boxes combined so there could be 10 pieces in one bag, which is about 2,000 to 5,000 packages a day.”

If your package is one of the 5,000 packages delivered that day, it gets unloaded and placed into a bin. If your package is too big to fit inside your APO box, it gets scanned in, labeled and placed onto a shelf, where you then get a notification letting you know that your package is ready for pickup.

Could you imagine if you didn’t get the notification? How would you know if your package was in?

About two years ago, Aviano Air Base Post Office was the first post office overseas to use the SC Logic system, which sends out notifications to inform customers about their packages. The system is now used in five other major postal services overseas.  

“Before you would have to come to the post office and come check your box and you may or may not have anything,” said Brown. “Now you know you do have something for sure before you come.”

Before the process of pitching the packages into their appropriate boxes was much longer.

“We would unload the truck, then we would have to write the last four letters of the customer’s name, the box number, and the Julian date on every package,” said Brown. “Then, we would have to go back through with slips and write down each box on a slip and cut the papers into slips and then go manually sort them in order so we could go through and manually pitch them into every mail box.”

However with the new system, it has cut down the time and improved the community’s quality of life and service.

“So now it goes on the shelf and we scan the tracking number,” said Brown. “We just type the box number in the pin-pad and a slip prints out and we put it on the box and then the customer is notified by email.”

The system is extremely efficient, but just like all technology it may have technical errors.

“The program isn’t designed for an APO Post Office,” said Brown. “It’s made for FedEx and UPS warehouses. But they geared it to our needs. That’s why sometimes there are glitches in the system that a customer can see on their side, like receiving two emails instead of one.”

Not only do the Aviano Post Office employees boost your morale by retrieving your Amazon packages, they also boost each other.   

“Every Friday our postal officer, Senior Master Sgt. Kimberly Thomas, gets us together and she makes us team up in a circle and bounce back and forth with each other, kind of like a football huddle,” said Brown. “She picks one person and that person has to go in the middle and get everyone fired up and the saying is ‘When I say team you say postal, team postal, team postal!’ It gets everyone in a good mood on a Friday.”

Overall, the Aviano Post Office is dedicated to getting your package to you as quick as possible.

“We take pride in what we do,” said Brown.