How to Send Mail to GIs in Mideast

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Neither sand nor desert heat will keep the mail from being delivered to U.S. soldiers dispatched to Saudi Arabia, and it will get there more quickly if letters are correctly addressed, a Camp Pendleton postal official said Tuesday.

Deluged by dozens of phone calls from relatives and friends of Marines being shipped out to join Operation Desert Shield, Camp Pendleton officials issued instructions Tuesday on the proper way to address mail to speed delivery to Saudi Arabia.

Correspondence should be limited to first-class mail weighing less than 11 ounces, said Command Postal Officer Maj. Mario Gomez. Mail can include audio cassettes, Gomez added, but forget about trying to send "care packages."

"You try to limit what goes in (to the remote areas where troops are located)" Gomez said, "because you may not have the operations to process it."

He said he did not know how long the restrictions on parcels would remain in place.

Mail should reach U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia in four to 10 days, Gomez said.

The first line on the parcel should include rank, name, social security number and military branch, such as USMC for marines, the official said. The second line should include the company or work section, and the third line should be either FPO New York 09503 or FPO San Francisco 96608.

Each unit has already been assigned either the New York or the San Francisco routing, and if family members are not sure which they should use, Gomez urged them to call the base.

The ZIP code should be ended with the 4-digit code assigned to each unit.

Camp Pendleton spokeswoman Capt. Rose-Ann Sgrignoli said correspondence must not violate international postal restrictions. Mail entering the Middle East, for example, cannot contain anything that would violate conservative Islamic religious beliefs: for example, nude or semi-nude photographs or alcoholic beverages, the official said.

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