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HomeNewsSending Love to Soldiers deployed in support of Operation United Assistance

Sending Love to Soldiers deployed in support of Operation United Assistance

Written by Spc. Caitlyn Byrne
27th Public Affairs Detachment

United States Africa CommandMonrovia, Liberia – With a metallic groan, the doors to a twenty-foot shipping container opened to reveal a cavernous space that, come every mail day, is filled with rows upon rows of brown and white boxes – care packages for deployed Soldiers.

Away from friends, family and most everything that they are familiar with, Soldiers deployed and stationed at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia, Liberia, in support of Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, look forward to almost anything that can give them a taste of home. Often times that taste of home comes in the mail.

Pfc. Eric Mohr, right, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., and wheeled vehicle mechanic for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, smiles as he receives two packages from home while deployed to the Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. Each week HHB Soldiers travel to the Roberts International Airport outside Monrovia to retrieve an average of 2,000 pounds of mail for their fellow Soldiers stationed in Liberia. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)
Pfc. Eric Mohr, right, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., and wheeled vehicle mechanic for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, smiles as he receives two packages from home while deployed to the Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

Whether it’s a box full of candy and cookies or something more practical like shaving cream or shampoo, a simple package or letter in the mail has the potential to make a Soldier’s deployment just a little bit brighter.

Specialist Raymond Allaire, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona, and an S1 clerk for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), JFC-UA, said that giving is really just as good as receiving.

“Mail is definitely a morale booster while Soldiers are deployed,” said Allaire. “When I was deployed in Afghanistan, they had a [Post Exchange store] where we could just go buy whatever we needed right then. But here mail is a bigger deal; whatever you get in the mail is what you have.”

A team of Soldiers with Joint Forces Command – United Assistance unloads a bus full of mail that was delivered for fellow Soldiers deployed to the Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. Each week Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), JFC-UA, travel to the Roberts International Airport outside Monrovia to retrieve an average of 2,000 pounds of mail for their fellow Soldiers stationed at the BTC. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)
A team of Soldiers with Joint Forces Command – United Assistance unloads a bus full of mail that was delivered for fellow Soldiers deployed to the Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

Staff Sergeant Michael Depalo, native of Sibley, Louisiana, and J1 essential personnel services noncommissioned officer in charge, received six packages the previous week. He said that it was heartening to get so much support from his family and friends.

“Getting mail was fantastic,” said Depalo. “My morale is high; I have food and protein, and now I can continue to remain devastatingly handsome, as well as staying properly nourished both physically and mentally.”

With an average of 3,000 pounds of mail to receive and sort through each week, the HHB S1 Soldiers of have their work cut out for them. But Capt. Mylene Lyons, native of Clarksville, Tennessee, and unit postal officer for HHB said that she and her Soldiers don’t mind the extra work.

“I think it is really worth it, getting to bring Soldiers mail and see how happy they are when they get something,” said Lyons. “It doesn’t bother us, working longer hours, if it gets Soldiers mail a bit sooner. We do this for them.”

Soldiers deployed to Liberia are not only giving support to the government of Liberia as it fights to contain the Ebola virus, they are also supporting each other.

“This is the best job that I’ve had so far in the Army,” said Allaire, smiling. “Seriously, as a [human resources specialist], working with the mail, while being deployed, this is the most thankful job I’ve ever had. Everyone likes getting packages from home, and getting to help Soldiers receive their mail is definitely something I am happy to do.”

Specialist Precious Gadsden, bottom, native of Chas, S.C., and S1 clerk for the 194th Military Police Company, Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, hands Sgt. Alyssa Tamayo, top, native of Las Vegas and S1 clerk for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), JFC-UA, packages for Soldiers deployed in support of Operation United Assistance, in Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. Each week Soldiers from HHB travel to the Roberts International Airport outside Monrovia to retrieve an average of 2,000 pounds of mail for their fellow Soldiers stationed at the Barclay Training Center in the city. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)
Specialist Precious Gadsden, bottom, native of Chas, S.C., and S1 clerk for the 194th Military Police Company, Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, hands Sgt. Alyssa Tamayo, top, native of Las Vegas and S1 clerk for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), JFC-UA, packages for Soldiers deployed in support of Operation United Assistance, in Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 10, 2014. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)
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