A free, public Chattanooga premiere of "The Six Triple Eight," will be held Thursday at 3 p.m. at the UTC University Center Auditorium. The award-winning documentary highlights the only all African American, all-female unit to deploy overseas during World War II.
The 50-minute documentary will be followed by a Q&A with the following subject matter experts: Jim Theres, executive writer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, producer, "The Six Triple Eight"; Colonel Edna Cummings (Ret.), U.S. Army, producer, "The Six Triple Eight"; Brian Autry, interpretive ranger, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park; and Beverly Foster, president, Walker County Georgia African American Historical and Alumni Association.
In February, 1945, hundreds of America’s highly skilled and educated women, many from the Southeast, shipped out to Europe for the opportunity of a lifetime. The United States Army’s 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was the only all-female, all-African American unit to serve overseas during World War II. Their story began right outside of Chattanooga, at the Third Army Women’s Army Corps Training Center at Fort Oglethorpe.
The 6888th’s story, long forgotten, is now the subject of an award- winning documentary called “The Six Triple Eight.” The 50-minute film will premiere in Chattanooga on Thursday at 3 p.m. at UTC's Center Auditorium.
The screening, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a Q&A with film producer, James W. Theres, producer Edna Cummings, Colonel, Ret., U.S. Army, National Park Service interpretive ranger Brian Autry, and Beverly Foster, president of the Walker County, Georgia African American Historical and Alumni Association.
The event is sponsored by UTC, Groove 93 and Power 94 FM, and the 6th Cavalry Museum.
“This is an amazing story that is finally coming to light,” said Operation Manager Keith Landecker of Power 94 FM. “These women faced enormous hurdles, both at home and abroad, to accomplish their mission.”
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion completed their overseas training at Fort Oglethorpe, then deployed to Birmingham, England in February 1945. Their assignment was to clear over 17 million pieces of backlogged mail, two years’ worth, to American G.I.’s serving in the European theater of war. The 855 members of the battalion were given one year to clear the backlog. Working round the clock in triple shifts, the women accomplished their task in six months.
“The 6888th were completely unique for their time,” said 6th Cavalry Museum Executive Director Chris McKeever. “They were part of a new, professional Women’s Army Corps, commissioned by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Roosevelt to support combat troops during World War II. They were the best and the brightest of African American women in the U.S. and their story started right here in Fort Oglethorpe.”
"The Six Triple Eight" Chattanooga premiere is the first event in a larger project to commemorate the 6888th in Fort Oglethorpe with a permanent exhibit and educational program at the 6th Cavalry Museum. An essential part of that project is to locate descendants of the 6888th living in the tristate region around Chattanooga.
“We have a full list of all the women who served in the 6888th, particularly from Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama,” says Ms. McKeever. “If your grandmother or great-aunt served with the 6888th, we would love to hear the stories that she passed down. Her letters, pictures, memories will be an important part of remembering these veterans and sharing their story with the region’s school children.”
A full listing of the 6888th veterans can be found on the 6th Cavalry Museum website (https://www.6thcavalrymuseum.org/the-six-triple-eight). Any family members or descendants of 6888th veterans may contact Ms. McKeever at the 6th Cavalry Museum at (706) 861-2860.