AT SEA -- Each member has a specific job critical to the mission in its own unique way.
For Sgt. Carl Exantus and Lance Cpl. Axel Gonzalez, both postal clerks assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), their mission is to deliver mail to Marines and Sailors aboard the ship.
“I’m responsible for distributing mail throughout the ship,” Exantus said. “I enjoy seeing the joy in peoples’ faces when they receive a package, it makes the job worth it.”
Exantus enlisted in the Marine Corps in August of 2010 and was given the title of postal clerk.
“I didn’t even know that was a job in the military, I just played the cards I was dealt,” Exantus said. “I knew it was the needs of the Marine Corps and it’s an important job.”
Exantus, at six-foot-six-inches tall and weighing approximately 270 pounds, is one of the largest Marines aboard the ship.
“Other Marines confuse me as an infantryman or artilleryman because of my size,” said Exantus. “When they find out I’m the postal clerk, they are satisfied their mail is in safe hands.”
Along with sorting mail, Exantus takes on the responsibility to train and mentor Marines, which is why he volunteers to instruct the Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar along with Corporals Course.
“He is a great mentor and teacher,” Gonzalez said. “He is always there when I need his knowledge or when we get bombarded with pallets of mail. He delegates and supervises along with helping us sort mail.”
During replenishments-at-sea (RAS), the New York receives 10 pallets of mail on average, but sometimes, the amount of mail is overwhelming.
“During one of our RAS's, we received fifty pallets of mail,” Gonzales said. “Mail was stacked all around us from the deck to the ceiling, filling up the entire postal room along with the main hallway. Sgt. Exantus and myself looked at each other and realized we were going to be up all night sorting mail.”
Both Marines, along with the mail orderlies (other Marines and Sailors that are trained in postal handling), managed to deliver all the mail to the appropriate destinations that very night.
“I was relieved the mail was delivered, but at the same time I felt burdened by the service members who didn’t receive mail,” Exantus said. “Fortunately, thanks to the American people who send us care packages, I was able to give some to the Marines and Sailors who didn’t receive mail to make them feel a part of the unit.”
Within the enormous pile of mail was important life-altering news from back home for Lance Cpl. Bayron Moraserna, a machine gunner assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th MEU.
“I opened a letter that my wife, Daniela Mora, sent me,” Bayron said. “I looked at a picture of an ultrasound, my first child. I was so excited to know that I would soon be a father to a girl. I called Daniela the next day and she told me everything that was going on.”
Bayron keeps the picture close to him, posted next to him on his rack to let him know that he has family to come home to. If it wasn’t for Exantus and Gonzalez, Marines throughout the ship wouldn’t have the same strong connection to their support system back home: their family.