Congressional Gold Medal awarded to WWII Battalion

  • Published
  • By Joseph A. Olano
  • Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter

President Joe Biden signed legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the WWII 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known as “Six Triple Eight”, March 14, 2022. House sponsor, Representative Gwen Moore of Wisconsin said, “I am beaming knowing that the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act is now signed into law! I also want to thank the advocates whose work ensure that this story of sacrifice was not lost to history. This legislation is for every unsung hero of the Six Triple Eight. In signing this legislation into law, our nation, in perpetuity, honors these trailblazing sheroes and helps ensure their service is always remembered.”

The 6888th was sent overseas in 1945 as a result of growing pressure from African-American organizations to include Black women in what was called the Women’s Army Corps. The advocates insisted that black women be allowed to join their white counterparts overseas.

During their voyage across the Atlantic, the unit dodged German U-boats on their way to England and scrambled to escape a German rocket once they reached a Glasgow port. They were forced to work in unheated, rat-infested airplane hangars in Birmingham, England, and given a daunting mission: Process the millions of pieces of undelivered mail for troops, government workers and Red Cross workers. The mountains of mail had piled up, and troops were grumbling about lost letters and delayed care packages. Thus, their motto, “No Mail, Low Morale.” They cleared a backlog of seventeen million pieces of mail in three months - half the time projected. The battalion went on to serve in France before returning home. Like so many Black units during World War II, they returned unheralded, and their exploits never received the attention and honor afforded their white counterparts.

Major (Ret) Fannie Griffin is one of just six of the 855 original members of the Six triple Eight. She is an active member of the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter (ARAC), Tuskegee Airmen, Inc, that held a celebration for her 101st birthday in September 2021. This very humble, great American patriot said, “It never occurred to me that it would happen.” ARAC is currently planning a celebration for Major McClendon and this historic event next month in early April 2022.