These Black Female Soldiers Brought Order to Chaos and Delivered a Blow Against Inequality

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tags: military history, African American history, womens history, World War 2

(CNN - Only four women rest under the long rows of white marble headstones at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, where nearly 9,400 other Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are buried. Three of the women are African American.

Pfc. Mary J. Barlow, Pfc. Mary H. Bankston and Sgt. Dolores M. Browne endured stifling segregation while serving their country, yet with their comrades they maintained a lifeline between American troops and their families back home.

The women were members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known as the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black Women's Army Corps unit to serve in Europe during World War II.

The battalion -- which served in England and France -- had a tough assignment: clear up an overwhelming backlog of letters and care packages that had been building up for years. Mail was considered a lifeline and a morale booster -- a reminder of home and the country those troops were fighting for, and the Army wanted the job done fast.

The Six Triple Eight often worked in cold, dark conditions for months, but completed their mission even earlier than expected. But when they came home, the unit of African American women was treated to little or no fanfare.

"I'm sure that you have seen, as many people have seen, how service people were heralded," said former WAC Lena King, 97, one of 11 known survivors out of the 855-member battalion. "But our dismissal was quiet and unpronounced. We simply came home."

More than 6,500 African American women served during World War II. Many enlisted out of a patriotic sense of duty for a country that kept them segregated.

Read entire article at CNN

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