The mail has been slow coming here at Bernstein. When I first arrived, the guys had received mail only a couple of times in about 6 weeks. Packages sent well over a month before with items such as eyeglasses were in limbo. The mail service is still slow and inconsistent--even compared to mail service to those in the field during the Gulf War, but the men are now at least getting some mail each week.
When mail does arrive, it is like Christmas. The troopers open the care packages filled with food (i.e., “pogey bait”), hometown newspapers, and pictures from home with anticipation. Then there are the letters from family, friends, and from people they don’t even know who write to wish them well. The soldiers pour over the letters, reading selections aloud, and frequently take the time to respond to those who have taken the time to write them. Of the correspondence from people who the soldiers do not know, some of the most amusing letters come from school children. For example, one student wrote to Staff Sergeant Gleason: “Thank you for defending our country. You must be exhausted.” Some of the children send drawings, like the American flags colored by a kindergarten class which line the main hallway in the barracks. While the guys appreciate care packages sent by those they do not know, a number have said that they prefer letters. For those who wish to send a letter to a member of the unit, here is their address:
Echo Troop 196th Cav.
30 HSB, 1st ID
Operation Iraqi Freedom
APO AE 09392
I use the address “any soldier,” but those interested should feel free to send a letter to a specific trooper mentioned in one of the blog posts or articles.