This IS a story needing to be told. Have you ever wondered how all those letters to service members were able to be delivered? I remember watching old war movies when the “mail arrived” but didn’t give much thought of how it happened. READ ON to see how morale was fueled.
Hilda Griggs, 98, is one of the last surviving members of the all-black, all-female 6888th postal unit, an Unsung hero of WWII who boosted morale by sorting soldiers’ mail. She was among those 855 still here who were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor. For the others who have passed, their families got the long last recognition for the work they did in a time of needed morale boosting at the end of the war. Hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. It’s why I tell the stories of those almost lost to history. It’s where inspiration and truths are found…and hope.
Below is the beautiful Memorial at Fort Leavenworth Kansas, that has been constructed to honor these women.
WASHINGTON – The all-Black women’s Army Corps unit to serve in Europe during World War II will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal more than 75 years after being credited with solving a growing mail crisis and serving as role models to future generations of Black women in the military.
Congress’ highest civilian honor is being awarded to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, also known as the “Six Triple Eight,” after a bill was signed into law on March 14 by President Joe Biden. The law recognizes “their pioneering military service, devotion to duty, and contributions to increase the morale of personnel stationed in the European theater of operations during World War II.”
News from home was a lifeline for soldiers in World War II. But as fighting intensified in Europe, undelivered mail piled up, deflating the morale of Americans on the front lines desperate for letters from loved ones. It was a problem Sgt. Hilda P. Griggs crossed the Atlantic in 1945 to fix.
February marks 78 years since the first and only all-African American Women’s Army Corps (WAC) unit was deployed to Europe during World War II. Griggs, now 98 years old, was one of the 855 members of that unit, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which was tasked with sorting through the two-year backlog of mail intended for service members and other personnel serving in the European Theater. The motto of the 6888th wasn’t ambiguous: “No mail, low morale.”
Troops were constantly changing locations during the war, which hampered mail delivery, and many soldiers shared common names. The 6888th encountered 7,500 undelivered letters addressed to “Robert Smith” alone. Morale suffered more and more as mail languished in warehouses.
To get the job done, members of the 6888th arrived in England and were put on eight-hour shifts that went around the clock, seven days a week. When a package was insufficiently addressed the battalion would look for clues within the contents to determine the intended recipient.
The women processed an average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift. Given six months by the Army to work through a backlog of nearly 18 million pieces of mail, the 6888th completed the formidable task in just three months. Once they finished the job in Birmingham, England, the battalion sailed to France to sort through another hoard of undelivered mail.
After the mail in France was cleared, hundreds of women of the 6888th began returning home. By February 1946 the entire battalion was back in the U.S. However, they arrived without fanfare and received no public recognition at the time for their efforts.
Griggs was honorably discharged in 1946. Today, she is one of only eight known surviving members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.
This past week Sgt. Griggs was honored with the Army’s Meritorious Unit Commendation Award, presented by a two-star general.
The United States Army Medal of Honor, The Nation’s Highest Medal of Valor
I Will Always Place The Mission First
I Will Never Accept Defeat
I Will Never Quit
I will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade