102-Year-Old Veteran of All-Black Battalion Receives Congressional Gold Medal for Her Service in WWII

Romay Davis is the oldest of the six remaining members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.

Romay Davis Event
Photo: Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

Last week, nearly eight decades after her service in World War II, Romay Davis received the Congressional Gold Medal in a special ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama.

Davis received the medal—the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian—for her service in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, more commonly known as the Six Triple Eight.

At 102 years old, Davis is the oldest of the six remaining members. Davis was also presented with a wartime uniform to replace hers, which was stolen shortly after she returned from the war.

On March 14, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that awards the women a Congressional Gold Medal "in recognition of 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."

The largest all-Black, all-female group to serve in the war, the 6888th was given the task of resolving a growing mail crisis facing a then-segregated Army.

"We all had to be broken in, so to speak, to do what had to be done," Davis, a Virginia-native who mainly worked as a motor pool driver, told the Associated Press. "The mail situation was in such horrid shape they didn't think the girls could do it. But they proved a point."

Working in terrible conditions, the 855 women of the 6888th cut down a six-month backlog in just three months. With the motto "no mail, no morale," the unit processed more than 195,000 pieces of mail a day, eventually clearing over 17 million pieces of mail by the end of their tour. Their work is credited with ensuring aid got to the frontlines, comforting mothers, and saving marriages.

Romay Davis Event
Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

After serving two years, four months, and three days in the Women's Army Corps, Davis moved to New York City. She spent 30 years working in the fashion industry before moving to Montgomery with her husband Jerry, who died in 1999. Davis never once slowed down, earning a black belt in her late 70s and working for two decades at a local grocery store. She retired just last year at the age of 101.

Davis received the medal from Col. Eries L.G. Mentzer, the first Black woman to command Maxwell Air Force Base.

"It was not easy for Rosa Parks," Col. Mentzer told People. "It wasn't easy for Romay Davis. Frankly, my life and my career have not been easy. There's a constant pressure to be perfect, especially when you're the 'first' at something. You want to make sure that the work you're doing doesn't close the door for others, to give any reason to say, 'Well, look, we tried it once.'"

"Despite what she was handed, despite the fact that there were so many barriers for her service, she persevered and she pushed to allow more freedom for people to serve our nation in the Armed Forces," she continued. "I would not be here without Romay Davis."

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