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Military Honors First African-American Female Serving Overseas in World War II

Goodness, barely 72 hours left in Black History Month and the US Military tries to sneak this one under the wire. Thank goodness I did my weekly search for stories about Black women otherwise this would have slipped our notice. Often the face of the World War II generation is a White one, Rosie the Riveter or Private Ryan . . . at least if you watch the movies. We all know about the Tuskegee Airmen, but have you ever heard of "Six-Triple Eight"(6888th) Central Postal Battalion? They were the first all-African-American, all-female unit to serve overseas in World War II:

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.CNN.com

You ought to head over to CNN.com to read about their working conditions and the massiveness of their task.

Well the Military finally got around to honoring these Black women. Granted at least one of them had to live to be 101 years-old to be recognized.

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." .....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......CNN.com

Apparently the Army was more "progressive" than the Navy back then:

During the war, the Army's attitude toward African American women appears to have been more progressive than the Navy's. The Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) excluded black women for almost the entire conflict, officials said. Washington Post

Y'all might want to head over to the Washington Post website and leave a comment when I put this up last night, there were no comments. Oops, the cat's out of the bag, I pre-file my posts sometimes :)

Reader Comments (6)

Thanks for sharing this story as I never cease to be amazed. The video was touching and I am just so sad that most of the recipients are not alive to receive their due honors. I once knew a volunteer who through all the racism she experienced in the south, still wanted to serve. She was overweight by then Army standards but granted (or had to sign as she said) a waiver and sent overseas. I trust her family have recieved the honors on behalf of their mother and grandmother.

February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

Thanks for sharing. Their story would make a wonderful movie.

February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

Great story. Thanks Gina. Can't wait to see the movie! Yeah....RIGHT!!!

February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustMe

Wow, I never knew about this woman before! What a wonderful story. Congratulations to the women for finally getting 'some' recognition.

February 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNoel

I'm in awe of these women and feel very blessed to know Gladys Carter(member of 6888th), it's not everyday that you meet the women whose shoulders you stand on. I've been in the Navy for 22 years and am very blessed to have met Gladys. The event was wonderful and long overdue and the rest of the world now knows the story, I can't wait until the movie either. There is someone who is in the process of producing a documentary on WWII vets, look for it soon. One of Gladys' passion is the Natl Assoc. of Black Military Women check it out www.nabmw.com

March 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFredda

Thanks for the information. I never knew how much of a role black women played back then in the military. It has been on my mind my to join but I am doing research on african amrerican women before I decide.

April 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

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