Neither sand storms, nor mortar fire nor random bombings kept 1st Sgt. Larry Montes from getting mail to thousands of soldiers in Iraq.The U.S. Army reservist, who oversaw postal operations at a base north of Baghdad, managed the processing of more than 8 million pounds of inbound mail, 2.5 million pounds of outbound mail and 473,006 pounds of redirected mail in addition to supervising five postal platoons.The base was frequently hit by mortar fire, but convoys that delivered the mail also faced dangers from roadside bombs and gunfire, said Montes, 46.Montes, who returned home and was reunited with his wife and four sons in Pico Rivera right before Christmas, earned the Bronze Star and a Good Conduct Medal.“I was surprised, because I didn’t go there to earn the Bronze Star,” he said. “My whole mission was distributing the mail, because mail is such a morale boost for the troops.”Montes was deployed for the postal mission in September 2004. He left for Iraq in December of that year.Montes enlisted in the Army soon after graduating from El Rancho High School in 1977. He was stationed in Germany from 1978 to 1981.A plumber in civilian life, he remained a reservist. In 1990 he was sent to Saudi Arabia to transport equipment and supplies from the port to the front lines during the Gulf War.There was no e-mail back then, making it tough on the reservist and his young family.“It was hard. We would go two or three weeks without a call or letter,” said his wife, Pat.Montes was again called to duty after 9/11. His job this time was to ensure that truckers carrying ammunition to Army or U.S. Navy bases across the United States made it safely to their destinations.He was called up again in September 2004, this time to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.He still has two years left in the Army reserves but hopes to spend the time closer to home.“Adapting back to the military is not hard, but being away from my wife and sons is,” he said. “I just want to spend time with them now, going to movies, out to dinner and playing a lot of golf.” [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!