The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion is finally receiving their due with a Congressional Gold Medal for their heroism during WWII. (Courtesy Photo)

By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO

The first Black female soldiers stationed in Europe will finally receive the homecoming they deserved after serving in World War II. 

On Feb. 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 422-0 to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Black women of the 6888th of the Central Postal Directory Battalion. The Senate passed a similar measure last year, honoring the hard work of the first and only all Black Women’s Army Corp unit.

“I am honored to recognize 6888th’s selfless service, and to be able to award the highest honor in Congress to the women, including my constituent Ms. Anna Mae Robertson, whose daughter inspired me to get involved in this effort,” Moore said.

The all Black female Women’s Army Corp Unit, known as the “6888th,” was deployed to Europe during World War II to clear out years of backlogged mail. The battalion did the dirty work to ensure mail was delivered to troops, government workers and Red Cross workers stationed throughout Europe, an important element of the War effort, then and now.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), principal sponsor of the Senate’s 6888th Gold Medal Recognition legislation, celebrated final passage of the bill in a speech on the floor of the Senate this week.

“The passage of this legislation is long overdue and will award the Congressional Gold medal to these brave women for their devotion to duty, military service, and their brave efforts to boost the morale of personnel stationed in Europe during WWII,” Moran said.  

The women of the 6888th Battalion worked in deplorable conditions; laboring in rat infested Army hangers with broken windows in the bitter cold to clear millions of pieces of backlogged mail in weeks. After their victory in England, they were redeployed to France where they repeated their success. Facing both racism and sexism, the women soldiers came home to anonymity while White World War II soldiers were celebrated with parades and special recognitions in communities throughout the United States.    

Back row from left to right: Edna W. Cummings (Colonel Ret.) (standing), Chris Goldson, Rodger Murphy Matthews (LTC Colonel Ret.), (son of Vashti Murphy Matthews and 6888 veteran), Natalie Durham (daughter of 6888 veteran Maybelle Campbell), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Stanley Early (son of 6888 Commander Charity Adams), Elizabeth Helm Frazier are just some of the people who helped the women of 6888th receive official honors. Front Row: Melody Campbell (daughter of Maybelle Campbell), Betty Schuler (daughter of Vashti Muphy Matthews) center front seated; Janice Martin (daughter of 6888 veteran Indiana Hunt-Martin) (Courtesy Photo)

Black U.S. Military officers and family members who advocated tirelessly on behalf of the 6888th Unit also rejoiced at final passage of the long-awaited legislation in Congress.

“This honor is long overdue. As a Black female general officer, I stand on their shoulders to have had the privilege and honor to serve at this rank,” Brigadier General (Ret) Twanda E. Young said.  “I now honor their legacy by ensuring others can stand on my shoulders.”

The legislation to award the women with a gold medal has been sent to President Biden for his signature.

Congresswoman Moore’s office reported the following living members of the WWII 6888th Battalion:

Private Anna Mae Robertson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (97 years of age)

First Lieutenant Fannie Griffin McClendon, Tempe, Arizona.  

Corporal Lena Derriecott Bell King, Nevada, Las Vegas. 

Private Romay Catherine Davis of Alabama (102 years of age)

Sergeant Hilda Griggs, New Jersey. 

Private Crescencia Garcia, Bronx, NY. 

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