In 1945, warehouses in Birmingham, England, were brimming with unsent postal mail intended for U.S. soldiers at the frontlines. At the same time, African American organizations pressed the War Department to create more opportunities for African American Women’s Army Corps members to serve. Tackling two issues at once, the War Department started recruiting African American women and formed the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The job was expected to take six months. The “Six Triple Eight” did it in three.

Retired Air Force Major Fannie Griffin McClendon was one of these women to take up the monumental task of ensuring soldiers on the frontlines received mail sent to them by their loved ones, regardless of rain, sleet, “buzz bombs,” racism, and sexism. Indeed, throughout her time in the 6888th Battalion and later as a commander with Strategic Air Command, she faced and overcame many instances of racism and sexism thrown at her. This ranged from men who refused to serve under her because she was a woman. Focusing on her vital duties to the country, McClendon knocked down barriers and shattered glass ceilings at every corner of her military career.

Even as a centenarian, McClendon remembered stories from her days in the military like the back of her hand. Stories she discussed in this episode of Borne the Battle include:

  • What life was like for her while serving abroad in Europe during WWII
  • The casualties the 6888th suffered while in France
  • Becoming a commander in the Air Force

Surrounded by the stench and sight of death, soldiers on the frontlines depended on members of the 6888th, like McClendon, to deliver them letters written by their loved ones back home. Despite the importance of their role, the 6888th, like many other segregated units from WWII, received little recognition after the war.

The 6888th only recently started gaining popular recognition, with a documentary on it released in 2019.

In 2021, the Senate passed the “Six Triple Eight” Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021, an act awarding congressional gold medals to members of the 6888th for their “pioneering military service, devotion to duty, and contributions to the morale of personnel stationed in the European theater.”

While formal recognition for her service was long overdue, McClendon seemed not to mind too much. Rather, she focused on the many opportunities the military gave her and the spectacular life it allowed her to live.


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16 Comments

  1. Magnus October 8, 2021 at 7:59 am

    LOVE THIS!! To battle the enemies of freedom as a black woman, is to stand up to your government, a white supremacist sexist society, and the Germans. Yet, she survived them all to see better days!

  2. Sgt Dave Squires, USAF ret October 7, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Such an awesome & elegant woman and Officer. I met her 2 years ago in Las Vegas at the church I attended. She is as vivacious and elegant in person as she sounds on the podcast. God bless Fannie and God bless America which has produced such wonderful people as Major McClendon.

  3. S Miller October 7, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Major Fannie Griffin McClendon,
    Thank you for what you did, and for what you continue to do; you are an inspiration!
    I also appreciated the ‘real’ mail while deployed.

  4. JESSE QUINONES October 7, 2021 at 10:43 am

    *Godspeed always 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. US ARMY!
    You have all struggled and went through a lot but you never quit on us GOD knows! Thank you for your service 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion you are all outstanding! God Bless America Soldiers! SUPPORTING VICTORY QM!

    “QUEEN OF BATTLE THE US ARMYINFANTRY” SFC (P) JESSE QUINONES RET US ARMY 11B30 & 76Y10 & 92Y40

  5. C. Davis October 7, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Great story. Thanks for recovering a piece of forgotten history. So many brave and courageous women, who set the stage for today’s female veterans. Thank you Fannie and those who served with you!

  6. Brian OConnor Sr October 7, 2021 at 9:19 am

    Why didn’t you recognize the 100 yr female marine from Minnesota who served in WW2

  7. Miss Ronza R Nash PHD October 7, 2021 at 9:13 am

    I finally got to see video footage of the Black female postal workers. How many of them are still alive

    will there be a documentary to be shown on maybe PBS!

  8. Rick October 6, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    Never heard about this before. Real interesting. I wonder why it is not widely know about? It shoildbe.

  9. Andrew Epstein October 6, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    I’d love to have my grandfather featured in an article. He’s 101 and was a pilot of the B26 Marauders during WWII. I think he even flew on D-Day. I’m a Coast Guard Veteran myself, but he was in the Army Air Corps which was the predecessor to the Air Force.

    • AIR FORCE RETIRE TTJONES October 10, 2021 at 6:14 pm

      Much respect wow. I am honored to just be able to read about you and see your powerful video, Retired Air Force Major Fannie Griffin McClendon!
      I feel privileged to have served in the Air Force knowing that you paved the way for me. THANK YOU…GREATLY APPRECIATED!

      God bless you!

  10. Niki October 6, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Awesome! Women that paved the way deserve all the glory!!!

  11. Kevin Foster October 6, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you!

  12. Stanley Sedran October 6, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks to her for her service too. My WWII dad will be 101 in January. He was a Bombardier in the Army Air Force and still quite sharp. Walking with a walker and proud no pull ups! He had his Covid shots he even survived Covid! He’ll be getting a booster soon. He’s got plenty to tell. They should meet.

  13. Chris lewis October 6, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    Sounds like a great life with lots of wonderful stories and alot of proud moments. Congratulations.

  14. sidney nmn malone October 6, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    My is sidney malone, I’m a veteran that belongs to the American Legion and the DAV. I’m writing because a member of my AL Post is turning 105 this month. He was in WWII and Korean. I was wondering if maybe a story could be done on him. Thanks

  15. Annie October 4, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for your service! We are standing on the shoulders of giants!!!

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