THE 6888TH CENTRAL POSTAL BATTALION FINALLY HONORED BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

I first mentioned the “Six-Triple Eight” Central Postal Battalion of the United States Army last year in my post, “Veterans Day” ( http://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/veterans-day-november-11-2008/ ). These beautiful Black women had bravely served their country and were largely forgotten for decades.
 
This year, the United States government finally returned the favor in honoring them at last.
 
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BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN’S BATTALION FROM WWII HONORED
 
February 25, 2009 — Updated 0316 GMT (1116 HKT)

 

By Paul Courson
CNN
 

ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) — The honors were late but still well-received Wednesday for members of the first all-African-American, all-female unit to serve overseas in World War II.

Mary Crawford Ragland said when they came home from service, there were no parades for them.

Mary Crawford Ragland said when they came home from service, there were no parades for them.

Alyce Dixon, 101, said it was worth the wait to receive the recognition for her service.
Alyce Dixon, 101, said it was worth the wait to receive the recognition for her service.
 

During the war, nearly 1,000 women from the “Six-Triple Eight” Central Postal Battalion moved mountains of mail for millions of American service members and civilians that clogged warehouses in England and France.

 

Their service to their country had been overlooked for years, starting with when they returned to the United States from assignments overseas.

 

“There was no parade,” said Mary Crawford Ragland. “We just came home.”

 

The 82-year old was among those gathered Wednesday at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, where a U.S. Army support group called the Freedom Team Salute presented them with certificates of appreciation, timed with Black History Month. Video Watch women receive their honors »

 

The group also gives a letter of appreciation signed by the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army, an Army lapel pin and an Army decal.

 

For Alyce Dixon, 101, it was worth the wait. “They asked me because I’m one of the oldest survivors, and I can still talk,” she said with a smile.

 

Nearly 800 women that were part of the 6888th were first stationed in Birmingham, England, for three months, moved to Rouen, France, and finally settled in Paris, according to the Army’s Web site.

They were responsible for redirecting mail to more than seven million people — all U.S. armed forces in the European Theater of Operations, including Army, Navy, Marine Corps, civilians and Red Cross workers.

 

As Army units quickly moved throughout Western Europe and into Germany, a massive mail snag occurred because of a manpower shortage.

 

Soldiers continued to move, fighting battles across the continent, but weren’t getting their mail. Morale began to drop.

 

That’s when the Army turned to the “Six-Triple-Eight”

 

When Dixon and the other women arrived at a warehouse in early 1945, they found the building had no heat.

 

Inside the warehouse, the windows were painted black to keep the light from coming out at night against bombing raids. Because there was no heat, the women donned long johns and anything else they could layer on.

 

But the temperature was nothing compared with the daunting challenge of sorting the mail.

When they walked inside the warehouse, it was stacked to the ceiling with undelivered packages and letters.

 

“They had 90 billion pieces of mail,” Dixon told CNN, some of it from hometown friends and family addressed only to “Junior, U.S. Army or Buster, U.S. Army,” she said.

 

“We had to figure it out,” she said.

 

Even when there were complete names, it wasn’t easy.

 

There were 7,500 soldiers named Robert Smith in the European Theater of Operations, according to the Museum of Black WWII History Web site, and the women had to keep them straight.

 

Because all undeliverable mail passed through them, they were charged with keeping information cards on everyone in the European Theater of Operations, according to the Army site. Because frontline soldiers were often moved frequently, the women often had to update information several times a month.

 

While it was an arduous task, the women knew the importance of their job. For soldiers in the field, letters from loved ones brought important personal connections that kept their morale going.

 

So they kept on sorting.

 

Eight hours at a time, three shifts per day, seven days a week, they kept on sorting. And because of them, 65,000 letters went out each shift to soldiers across Europe.

 

On Wednesday, the favor was finally returned.

 

SOURCE:  http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/02/25/postal.battalion/

RELATED LINKS:

African American Female WWII Battalion Honored – AOL Video

African American Female WWII Battalion Honored Video on AOL Video – At the to honor of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion of World War II.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “THE 6888TH CENTRAL POSTAL BATTALION FINALLY HONORED BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

  1. Pingback: YES, THERE WERE BLACK SOLDIERS IN THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE DURING WWII « BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

  2. Pingback: BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA: BLACK WOMEN AMERICAN WOMEN IN WORLD WAR II | BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

  3. Pingback: Catching up… « For These Are My Mountains…

  4. charles DElk m,sgt retired USAF

    I beleve my great aunt lettie roberta williams of marietta ga. might have been assigned to this unit.I would like to see the roster if some one can direct me to a souce.

    • Charles, wee you ever able to very if your Aunt was part of this group? I have a reporter that wants to do a story of these Women and he is looking for any survivors. Please contact me at geeterj@yahoo.com. I’m a past National President of the group that preserves the legacy of the first Balck marines.

  5. Pingback: Black Women in WWII : Black Women's Empowerment League

  6. Jeanie Moorer

    I think this is tremendous it shows the LOVE that Black Women had fos our Country even when we were not treated equally on any front. I believe one of my relative Theresa Price served in this unit.

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