Post office delivers holiday joy this season

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

With the holiday season upon us, the Royal Air Force Mildenhall Post Office is even busier than Santa’s workshop.

The post office team is seeing a large increase in packages being sent and received, nearly doubling the 40 percent increase in packages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve gone from having an average of 200 to 250 pieces on a truck to more than 400 pieces each day,” said Master Sgt. Aisling Loftus, 100th Force Support Squadron postal superintendent. “Our shelves are completely full.”

A “piece” is not just one parcel, but one bag filled with anything between five to 20 boxes for Team Mildenhall members and their families. Once packages come into the post office on the truck, each one is scanned into the system. This notifies U.S. Postal Service that the mail has been received, as each piece is trackable. The post office then emails the customer to let them know they have items to collect.

There are currently 20 postal staff members consisting of Airmen, Ministry of Defence and Local National Direct Hire civilians. With the help from volunteers, the team is working non-stop to get parcels, cards and letters both mailed out and delivered to customers.

“To make things easier for our customers, we’ve started advertising our mailout dates to ensure that folks’ presents make it back to loved ones before Christmas,” explained Loftus. “We’ve also extended our hours and are training our volunteers to meet U.S. Postal Service guidelines, in addition to ordering extra supplies, such as priority mailing boxes, to have on-hand and ensure we’re able to withstand the increase in people requesting them.”

Patrons can also do their part in making the process simpler by completing the customs form online before bringing packages to the post office. This saves both the customers’ and postal clerks’ time,  avoiding delays and long wait times.

Outgoing mail is checked to ensure the customs form is correct and the fee is paid. Boxes are then prepared for dispatch and put into color-coded bags marked for different locations. Barcoded labels contain vital tracking information, which is scanned at every stage of the journey, and include which airline the mail bag will be carried on. The bags are then weighed.

“We also advise customers to wrap their parcels appropriately and securely. With the weather getting worse, there’s always a chance that packages could end up damaged along the way to their destination,” the postal superintendent added. “For the same reason, we sometimes end up having to re-wrap incoming mail if boxes arrive in poor condition; but we always add a label explaining why that was done.”

Often when a package arrives without a complete address, the post office may have trouble identifying the customer. It’s advisable to put the name and address inside the package as well, to help the package make it to its final destination.

If sending or picking up multiple packages, Loftus advises customers to go online and make an appointment to cut down on waiting time. The online service can also be used if needing to put a mailbox on hold or getting a post office box for incoming personnel.

Because the post office is so busy during the holiday season, volunteers are invaluable. Almost anyone who is a base ID cardholder can volunteer, including active duty, civilians and dependents. To volunteer, sign up on the 100th FSS website or scan the QR code when visiting the post office.

“When it comes to the RAF Mildenhall postal team, we’ve hit a lot of milestones this year. With COVID-19, we’ve had to change a few things, but our team has been able to adapt, remain  flexible, take on this new challenge and still be able to get the job done on time, if not better,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Hawkins, 100th FSS Post Office postmaster.

For more information on postal services or volunteering, visit the post office’s website at, or call commercial 01638 542151 or DSN 238-2151.