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Lance Cpl. Adrian E. Fuentes, a 21-year-old administration clerk, reads a MotoMail letter his wife, Dianira, sent him from his hometown of Laredo, Texas, on Feb. 23, 2006. In the letter, his wife tells him their children, Stacey, two, and Adrian Jr., six months, are doing fine. Fuentes is currently assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group, Headquarters and Service Batallion, Headquarters Company at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq.

Photo by Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz, USMC

Electronically sent letters keep morale high for Marines in Iraq

10 Mar 2006 | Cpl. Daniel J. Redding

In the blink of an eye, a letter can cross the globe and find its way to the hands of a deployed servicemember. With the ease of clicking a mouse, letters of encouragement are arriving in Iraq by the thousands.

As deployments continue, the Marine Corps is working at sustaining the morale of its personnel in combat zones. The latest tool in accomplishing this mission is MotoMail, short for Motivational Mail, a system of electronically sending and physically printing letters from home.

The system is a free service to all servicemembers, specifically their family members and friends who are interested in writing a letter to their Marine in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Don McCarty, postal officer for 1st Marine Logistics Group and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

“Every Marine walking around needs to know about (this system),” said Staff Sgt. Christelle M. Temple, the liaison for Marine postal services in Bahrain. “If they don’t, then we haven’t accomplished our mission.”

The goal of MotoMail is to deliver a letter from home to any deployed Marine within 24 hours, said Temple, a 31-year-old native of Bridgeport, W.Va.

For those Marines in the far reaches of Iraq, the system can cut the delivery time of a letter down to a matter of days from upwards of a week and a half it takes regular mail to arrive, McCarty said.

The program is conveniently accessed through its website, www.motomail.us.  When a family member visits the site, they can create the letter they wish to send to their loved one overseas.

In Iraq, the letter reaches its destination, one of nine machines at different bases, where it is then printed. The machines produce 2,200 automatically folded and sealed letters a day and upwards of 60,000 to 70,000 a month.

According to McCarty, once the letter has been written by the families, the simplicity of the system truly comes to light.

“The printer is just a standard, regular printer,” McCarty explained. “The beauty of the system is a special printer-adapter that works with the printer.”

This adapter takes the freshly printed letter, folds and then pressure-seals it. The letter is now ready to be picked up by the unit.

The program, officially begun in December 2004, has been in development since 2003, when the idea was first looked into by the Department of Defense through a recommendation by the Florida-based www.superletter.com. A test run of the system ran from August to September 2004, with incredibly positive feedback.

“There was an overwhelming response by the families who had started to use the service,” said McCarty, who used the feedback to help convince Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon to implement the system.

The system is designed for deployed junior Marines, McCarty said, with 80-percent of the system’s recipients being corporals and below, many being in the combat-arms fields.

For Cpl. Jose O. Ruiz, a 28-year-old native of Jacksonville, N.C., the system was a positive thing not only for himself but for his family as well.

“It allowed me not only to receive news from home in a prompt manner, but to keep thoughts from home with me for moral support,” said Ruiz, a combat engineer with Headquarters and Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion.

Ruiz, who is heading home in a few weeks, said his family enjoys the flexibility the system provides for them when they need to send letters of support.

For those with limited computer access, a MotoMail letter can be just the encouragement they need, delivered from their loved ones in a matter of days.

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