U.S. Army’s only all-female, African American WWII unit honored with monument

1
4473
(Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration)

By Kaylah Jackson

The contributions of over 800 African American women who sorted mail in a segregated unit during WWII were recognized Friday in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with a monument erected in their honor.

“No mail, no morale,” was the motto of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the U.S. Army’s only all-African American and all-female unit during the Second World War.

Often referred to as the “Six-Triple-Eight,” the unit was made of up 824 enlisted and 31 officer women, who were originally from the Women’s Army Corps, Army Service Forces and Army Air Forces.

Women’s Army Corps Cpl. Alyce Dixon talks with her superior officer while she served with the 6888th Postal Batallion. The battalion was the first all female, all black battalion in World War II. Dixon served from 1943 to 1946. (Photo courtesy of Women of 6888th)

While many African American nurses served overseas in combat zones, WAC units remained separated and women of color were only allowed to serve overseas depending on the “needs of the Army.” The military faced pressure for African Americans WACs to serve in overseas components and eventually a request for 800 women to serve in the European Theatre was approved.

In 1945, warehouses and Red Cross workers in England became overwhelmed with a backlog of mail and packages addressed to U.S. service members. The hundreds of women who eventually made up the 6888th were selected to train for this exact mission.

Under the direction of Lt. Col Charity Edna Adams, the women traveled to Camp Shanks, New York after enduring boot camp, and eventually arriving in Birmingham, England, in 1945. Upon arrival to Europe, the women were welcome to a dimly lit and rat-infested warehouse with mail stacked to the ceilings.

Of the over 800 servicewomen, five were present at their monument dedication ceremony at Fort Leavenworth.

(Photo courtesy of George Marcec)

“Servicemen want their mail. That’s a morale booster,” Lena King told KCTV.  Now 95-years-old, then Corporal King worked among other women in the warehouse identifying miswritten pieces of mail and ensuring the men fighting received letters from their loved ones.

By dividing their work in shifts that ran 365 days a week, the women processed an average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift, clearing the previous six-month backlog of letters in just three months.

Designed by sculptor Eddie Dixon, the monument features all of the names of the women of the Six-Triple-Eight, a bust of Lt. Col Adams and iconic photos highlighting the unit’s mission.

(Photo courtesy of George Marcec)

The monument sits near a series of other historical tributes on Fort Leavenworth. From honoring the first African American West Point graduate to the first African American four-star general, this monument will be another addition highlighting the “firsts” of our nation’s history at war.

     To comment or share your story email gethelp@connectingvets.com.

This story originally appeared on connectingvets.com.

Looking to Advertise? Contact the Crusader for more information.

1 COMMENT

  1. I do wonder why we are just now in 2018 hearing about this. I never heard it before and I thought I had read every thin on WW11 that was written.

Leave a Reply to Katherine P. M. Fowler Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here