MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Holiday spending peaks during this time of the year, but not all the purchases sit under a Christmas tree.
Some are mailed to families and friends and go through a lengthy process before arriving at their destination - whether that be in the U.S., or halfway around the world - which can take weeks.
The buildup of packages may be great business for the U.S. Postal Service, but it also creates a daunting mission for the post office aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. However, the ability to bring smiles to families and deployed Marines can instill a great sense of pride to those manning the post office.
This time of year, the Warrior Express Service Team takes charge. The team provides expedient mailing services to alleviate congestion at post offices. This year, the WES Team stood up at the Marine Corps Exchange aboard the base.
"The two military post offices that we have on base aren't utilized as often," said Master Sgt. Thomas Hirn, the postal finance officer with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune. "We're trying to (inform) base that we are a military post office that can provide the same service that USPS does. We are helping to (lighten) some of the (burden) at the post office by offering a WES Team. It's also a one-stop shop. They can buy stuff at the (exchange) and then ship it out at the same time."
Last year, a WES Team was set up next to the Main Post Office aboard the base, but the chilly December breeze was not inviting to those seeking postal services.
"Indoors is a whole lot better for us and especially for the customers," said Sgt. Robert Lismore, the postal clerk and noncommissioned officer in charge of the WES Team. "They don't have to wait in the cold."
Lismore and Lance Cpl. Jessie Hart, the finance clerk with the WES Team, would have had to fight to stay warm because they were the only two manning the post from Dec. 6 through 10 and Dec. 13 through 17.
"It's nice to be warm, but I'd still want to do it if we were set up outside," said Hart. "When I operated with a WES Team during a deployment, I saw a lot of Marines get really excited. Some of them waited for long periods of time to get a package, and I've seen grown men cry when their mail arrived."
The teams, as Hart mentioned, are also located throughout the world at various locations. In places like Afghanistan, they routinely make trips to forward operating bases around the clock.
Hart said she has been invited to cookouts and has even received gifts from thankful Marines, but all she was doing was her job.
"Out here, when you're in garrison, (postal service) is a little unappreciated," said Hart. "But when you're deployed, you figure out why you're important. It really pays off to have such a rewarding job."
Lismore and Hart worked side-by-side at the exchange, doing what they were trained to do with pride - assisting with Santa's Christmas deliveries and offering patrons a way to skip the long lines and mail their packages in time for the holidays.
Aside from being a necessity during deployments, the postal Marines also provide Marines with a piece of home taped up and crammed in a box.
"While they're fighting, we're sleeping," said Lismore. "It's very important to give them that type of support. That feeling of home away from home brings up their morale. Our mission here at the (Marine Corps Exchange) is to provide our services to the Marines as well as their families, and I'm happy to be a part of it."
For more information on consolidated post offices aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, visit www.marines.mil.
Civilian Post Office
Main Post Office 1770 McHugh Boulevard, Building # 1770
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Midway Park housing community: 4014D Butler Drive
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Tarawa Terrace housing community: 2463 Iwo Jima Boulevard
Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Military Post Office
Camp Johnson, building M129
Camp Geiger, building TC1003
Courthouse Bay, building BB54
D Street, building 222
French Creek, building FC312
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune: 100 Brewster Boulevard
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.