Black WWII unit of women soldiers is honored by Congress

The 6888th Central Mailing Directory Battalion is credited with solving an English mail crisis and serving as a role model for future generations.

Black WWII unit of women soldiers is honored by Congress

BOSTON -- Monday's House vote awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for the all-female, Black unit that served in Europe during World War II.

After a long-running campaign for recognition of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the 422-0 vote was approved. The legislation was passed by the Senate last year. This unit, also known by the Six Triple Eight, was charged with routing mail for millions upon millions of civilians and service personnel. Only half of the more than 800 members are still living.

Maj. Fannie Griffin Mclendon (101) said, "It's overwhelming" when she was told about the vote. It's something that I had never considered. It's not something I can bear.

The 6888th Central Mail Directory Battalion is credited with solving a growing postal crisis in England. It also served as an example to future generations of Black women who enlisted in the military.

For decades, however, the achievements of the 855 members have not been recognized. This has all changed over the years, and it began several years ago.

To honor them, a monument was built at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 2018. The Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the 6888th in 2019. The documentary "The Six Triple Eight" was created about them. Talk of making a movie is being discussed. The 6888th was supported by retired Army Colonel Edna Cummings.

"The Six Triple Eight was an exemplary group of heroes who were a trailblazing unit of heroes who were also the only all-Black, Women Army Corps Battalion that served overseas during World War II," stated Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore. She sponsored the bill after Anna Mae Robertson, the daughter of 6888th members, contacted her.

She continued, "These women faced racism and sexism while in warzones and they sorted millions upon millions of mail pieces, closing huge mail backlogs and making sure service members got letters from their loved ones." These veterans, who were not given much recognition after their return home, deserve a Congressional Gold Medal.

Monday night, the House voted to rename Buffalo's Central Park Post Office as the "Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office Building". This was in honor of Indiana Hunt-Martin who is a veteran and a member the 6888th. Hunt-Martin, 98, died in 2020.

"Throughout her life, Indiana Hunt-Martin was subject to racism and sexism, but that did not stop her from serving her country," New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins said in a statement. Higgins also co-sponsored the Congressional Gold Medal bill. Her courage and bravery helped to open the doors for future generations of African American women in the military.

In 1945, the 6888th was dispatched overseas by African-American organizations. This was at a time when Black women were under increasing pressure to be included in the Women's Army Corps.

On their way to England, the unit members avoided German U-boats and managed to dodge a German rocket when they arrived at a port in Glasgow.

They were sent to Birmingham, England's unheated, rat-infested hangars. Their mission was to process the millions of letters that had not been delivered for soldiers, government workers, and Red Cross workers. The mail was piled up, and soldiers were complaining about lost letters and delayed care packages. Their motto was "No Mail, Low Morale."

They were able to clear a backlog of 17 million pieces of mail in just three months, half the time they had anticipated. The battalion would return home to continue their service in France. Their exploits, like many other Black units in World War II were not given the same attention as their white counterparts.

Despite their accomplishments, the unit was subject to criticism and questions from those who did not support Black women in military service.

Housing, recreation and mess halls were separated by race and sex. This forced them to create their own operations. A general also criticised Maj. Charity Adams as the unit commander and threatened to give her command over to a white officer. According to reports, she replied, "Over my dead corps, sir."

After leaving the military, both men and women were able to achieve great success.

In 1945, the 6888th was dispatched overseas by African-American organizations. This was at a time when Black women were under increasing pressure to be included in the Women's Army Corps.

On their way to England, the unit avoided German U-boats and managed to dodge a German rocket when they arrived at a port in Glasgow.

They were sent to Birmingham, England's unheated, rat-infested hangars. Their mission was to process the millions of letters that had not been delivered for soldiers, government workers, and Red Cross workers. The mail was stacked up, and soldiers were complaining about lost letters and delayed care packages. Their motto was "No Mail, Low Morale."

They were able to clear a backlog of 17 million pieces of mail in just three months, half the time they had anticipated. The battalion would return home to continue their service in France. Their exploits, like many other Black units in World War II were not given the same attention as their white counterparts.

Despite their accomplishments, the unit was subject to criticism and questions from those who did not support Black women in military service.

Housing, recreation and mess halls were separated by race and sex. This forced them to create their own operations. A general also criticised Maj. Charity Adams as the unit commander and threatened to give her command over to a white officer. According to reports, she replied, "Over my dead corps, sir."

Many women who resigned from the military had great success.

Elizabeth Barker Johnson was first woman to receive the GI Bill at Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina. At 99 years old, she took part in the school’s graduation ceremony - 70 years after receiving her degree. Hunt-Martin was employed by the New York State Department of Labor 41 years.

McClendon joined Air Force in 1971 after the military was integrated. McClendon was the first woman to command an all-male squadron of the Strategic Air Command. Her family stated that Doris Moore, a unit member, was also the first Black social worker to be hired in New Hampshire.

Chris Pappas, New Hampshire Democratic Rep. said that this was a long-overdue recognition and honor for the women of Six Triple Eight, which includes Doris Moore. "Doris and her sister in arms were trailblazers, patriots, who answered the call for service. Even more amazing is the fact that they served in defense of freedom at a time when many freedoms they fought for weren't available to them.

Yorum yapabilmek için üye girişi yapmanız gerekmektedir.

Üye değilseniz hemen üye olun veya giriş yapın.

NEXT NEWS