If the late date of the establishment of the Naval rating of Postal Clerk (PC) seems odd to you considering how long mail has been sent back and forth between soldiers and sailors and their families, things get a little clearer if you understand how this type of correspondence was previously handled.

During World War II, when millions upon millions of letters were sent and received by men and women in the U.S. Armed Services, the United States Post Office Department worked in collaboration with the various branches of the Military—and there was a definite demarcation point where the Post Office’s responsibilities ended and the U.S. Military’s began. When the United States entered the war, there were 1300 U.S. Post Offices serving Army camps and outposts in the U.S.; 400 Army Post Office could be found in more than 40 foreign nations, and the U.S. Navy had 2000 postal facilities on ship and at shore installations. The Army had Military Mail Terminals in New York and San Francisco; the Navy had Fleet Postal Offices in the same city.

When someone mailed a letter to a soldier or sailor, they addressed it using the serviceman’s rank and unit and specified one of those Army or Navy postal facilities—but care of the Postmaster in one of the two cities. At the first sorting facility where the letter was received, the letter would be sorted out from civilian mail and marked as military mail; upon arrival at a Postal Concentration Center, where it is sorted and separated down to individual units such as a Company in the Army. Only then does it go into the hands of the military, since they know the precise location of the serviceman and his company.

In 1959, however—the year Postal Clerk rating was created—the arrangement was altered and the Post Office became responsible for handling and dispatching mail. That necessitated the need for Postal Clerks at APOs and Fleet Mail Centers, carrying out the same tasks that a civilian Postal Clerk does. However, because of the threat of dangerous materials being sent to military personnel is always a worry, Sailors in the PC rating were responsible for checking items to see they might contain mail bombs or other threats. These types of duties have been stepped even more for the Logistics Specialists who now perform the functions of Postal Clerk.

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