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Thu Jun 25, 2020, 12:05 AM

The Black Female Battalion That Stood Up to a White Male Army

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/17/magazine/6888th-battalion-charity-adams.html

"In January 1945, a C-54 cargo plane carrying a group of young Army officers departed an Air Transport Command terminal in Washington for war-torn Europe. Among the passengers was a 26-year-old major named Charity Adams, who was quietly making history as the first African-American commanding officer in the Women’s Army Corps to be deployed to a theater of war. As the plane ascended over the Atlantic, she still wasn’t sure where she was headed or what she would be doing there. Her orders, marked “Secret,” were to be unsealed in flight. When she opened the envelope, the documents revealed only that her destination was somewhere in the British Isles; she would be briefed on the particulars of the mission once on the ground.

A couple of weeks later, Adams stood on a windswept parade field in Birmingham, England, addressing a formation of hundreds of black soldiers in khaki-skirted uniforms. She had been placed in command of a battalion that would soon number 855 women. She could see that many were scared and tired, still reeling from a treacherous 11-day journey from the United States by sea spent dodging torpedoes and German U-boats. Groans rippled through the ranks as Adams explained that they would begin work immediately. As the newly created 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, their mission was neither glamorous nor particularly thrilling. The work would be grueling, the hours long, and what little sleep they were allotted would be prone to interruption by air raids. Progress would be measured by the depletion of undelivered mail they had been summoned to England to sort out. With the war now at its bloody peak, mail was indispensable for morale, but delivering it had become a towering logistical challenge. The backlog, piled haphazardly in cavernous hangars, amounted to more than 17 million letters and packages addressed to Allied military personnel scattered across Europe.

Despite her can-do attitude, Adams believed that she and her troops had been set up for failure. Before the formation of the Six Triple Eight, as the battalion was known, it was unfathomable that a unit composed entirely of black women would be posted overseas and trusted with such a monumental task. The Six Triple Eight was an experiment — a pass-fail test to determine the value black women brought to the military. Years of unyielding pressure from civil rights activists, including the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, had convinced the War Department to give them a shot, but those who strongly opposed their inclusion in the ranks expected to be validated by seeing them fail. “The eyes of the public would be upon us, waiting for one slip in our conduct or performance,” Adams later recalled in her memoir. She knew that simply getting the job done wouldn’t be enough. The Six Triple Eight would need to not only pass the test but also, as Adams wrote, prove to “be the best WAC unit ever sent into a foreign theater.”

A pastor’s daughter from Columbia, S.C., Adams dropped out of graduate school to join the war effort in the summer of 1942, after the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (W.A.A.C.) announced that it was accepting 40 black women into its first officer-candidate school. Black civic leaders were calling for African-American men and women to volunteer for military service and literally fight for equal rights overseas; as Adams soon learned, however, the arbitrary constraints of Jim Crow applied even in matters of national security. At the ceremony that culminated the W.A.A.C. officer course, the candidates were commissioned as third officers, equivalent to Army second lieutenants, in alphabetical order by last name. Though Adams topped the list, she watched all the white candidates cross the stage before her name was called and she officially became the first black woman ever commissioned in the corps."

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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Black Female Battalion That Stood Up to a White Male Army (Original post)
GeoWilliam750 Jun 25 OP
murielm99 Jun 25 #1
GeoWilliam750 Jun 25 #4
2naSalit Jun 25 #2
niyad Jun 25 #3
SunSeeker Jun 26 #5
Momma Jun 26 #6
marble falls Jun 26 #7
burrowowl Jun 27 #8
llashram Jun 27 #9
appalachiablue Jun 28 #10
IronLionZion Tuesday #11
DeSmet Tuesday #12

Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Thu Jun 25, 2020, 06:05 AM

1. Thank you for this.

I have been doing some research on notable military women. I feel that some military bases currently named after Confederates should be renamed for distinguished military women. I am ashamed to say that I missed Adams.

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Response to murielm99 (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 25, 2020, 08:52 PM

4. Kind of amazing, really

26 year old Major in the United States Army in 1945. Truly amazing accomplishment, especially given the times and circumstances.

Would have loved to have had the opportunity to work with her. Tough times forge tremendous people, and I think we may be heading into tough times now.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Thu Jun 25, 2020, 07:49 AM

2. K&R

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Thu Jun 25, 2020, 08:07 PM

3. Thank you for this most enlightening OP. I remember hearing about this unit, but basically only of

it's existence. So much information has been buried, or destroyed, about such achievements.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Fri Jun 26, 2020, 01:53 AM

5. K & R

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Fri Jun 26, 2020, 09:57 AM

6. Thank you!

I’m a history buff and this was new information. Wonderful!

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Fri Jun 26, 2020, 03:39 PM

7. A great read, thanks!

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2020, 02:24 AM

8. Thanks for link

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2020, 02:34 PM

9. thank you for

reminding me of sacrifice and valour as contributed by these exemplary soldiers of the W.A.C.C.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Sun Jun 28, 2020, 01:00 AM

10. Glad to know about this courageous WAAC group, bravo!

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Tue Jun 30, 2020, 09:50 AM

11. When statue-saving idiots complain about erasing history

this is the kind of stuff that many folks didn't learn about in schools. I didn't know about this before. It's good to preserve this sort of history so it's not forgotten.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Original post)

Tue Jun 30, 2020, 05:29 PM

12. Well shit

Let's get this movie in the works. I can see one great scene after another right up to reversing the honor guard request for Lieutenant Colonel Adams funeral. Damn. We can't let American stories like this fade away.

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