This guest post was submitted by Marine Corps Veteran Dennis Miller to honor his grandmother, Sylvia Benton, who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Benton served in 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. It has been edited for style and clarity.

My grandmother was my role model. I’ve wanted to be like her my entire life. She broke barriers with an easy smile and without fear.

Her name was Sylvia Benton and she served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, of which she was fiercely proud. She was a Titan among mortals, a true embodiment of citizenship in a Republic.

My grandmother was the matriarch of our family, a community leader, and a small business owner; she was also a proud, active member of the Veteran community. She instilled discipline and pride into her children and their children. But she was also the kindest, most generous person I ever met.

Sylvia Benton in uniform.

In 1945, my grandmother lived in Savannah, GA. That year, she enlisted in the WAC and was assigned to the legendary 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-female, all-Black battalion to serve in the combat zone. Her unit would come to be known as the Six Triple Eight, and they were given the unenviable task of delivering millions of pieces of unprocessed mail to troops on the front lines. There were reports that the lack of reliable mail delivery was hurting morale. The Army was not able to complete this mission so they turned to the Six Triple Eight for help.

The soldiers of the 6888th were sent to Birmingham, England, where they redirected full warehouses of mail. The Army estimated a backlog of six months. They cleared it in three. Their performance so impressed that leadership then sent them to Rouen, France, to repeat it. The mail in France had swelled to a two-to-three-year buildup, and it took the Six Triple Eight six months to clear. The Army had rarely seen a more efficient unit, especially in a time of war.

However, the 6888th were not recognized for the work they did in combat once they returned home. No one thanked them for their service or included them in their ticker tape parade. There are, however, a number of efforts being made to rectify that situation, including a bill to award them the Congressional Gold Medal.

Williams in uniform with Grandma Silvia.

Sylvia Benton was a phenomenon. I joined the Marine Corps because she thought it was the right thing for me to do. I became an entrepreneur because I admired the way she ran her laundromat in South Philadelphia. Inspired by her, I launched the Greater Philadelphia Area Veteran Chamber of Commerce because she was a staunch advocate for Veterans and their reintegration into civilian society. I am who and what I am because of her service – to her family and our country.

I am so very proud to share the bonds of blood and military service with her. She spoke of the Six Triple Eight with such pride and passion… As in everything, I have tried to do her proud in the telling of this tale. While she is no longer with us, her story lives on. I encourage all to learn more about the Six Triple Eight and to find inspiration in their individual stories. These women were trailblazers, pioneers in a time when no one wanted them. I hope to grow up to be something like the one I knew and respected and loved. Semper Fidelis.

By Dennis Miller is a Marine Corps Veteran and the grandson of Sylvia Benton

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Published on Feb. 23, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.1 min.

Views to date: 1,694

35 Comments

  1. Elizabeth A Helm-Frazier, U S Army (RET) March 25, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    Mr. Williams, I am part of the 6888th Project Team. I have been on the team since Jan 2018. Our latest accomplishment is getting S. 321 and H R 1012 passed and on March 14th the President signed into the 6888th Congressional Gold Medal Act. If you would like a copy of the signed bill, I can email to you. I work at VA, in Washington, D.C.

    Elizabeth.Helm-Frazier@va.gov

    Thank you for the article about your grandmother who was apart of the AMAZING 6888th.
    Elizabeth
    U S Army (RET)

  2. MSG PHILLIP BAROS-AKEE March 14, 2022 at 5:43 am

    MR WILLIAMS THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND THAT OF YOUR GRANDMOTHER AND FOR SHARING THAT AWESOME STORY WITH THE SIX TRIPLE EIGHT CENTRAL POSTAL DIRECTORY BATTALION. I SERVED IN THE U.S. ARMY FROM JULY 1972 THRU AUGUST 1994, MY MAIN JOB WAS A RADIO REPAIR/OPERATOR AND A PART-RIME POSTAL CLERK HELPING OUT IN THE MAILROOM AND I REMEMBER THE LONG LINES OF WAITING SOLDIERS AWAITING MAIL CALL, NEWS FROM ANYONE BACK HOME OR FRIENDS FROM POINTS UNKNOWN OR TOP SECRET OR WHATEVER. MAIL IS MAIL AND VERY IMPORTANT LETTERS OR BIG PACKAGES. I HOPE YOU GET THE AWARD FOR YOUR GRANDMOTHER THAT PASSED REST HER SOUL AND THE OTHER SOLDOERS STILL ALIVE AND WAITING FOR COMMENDATION AND AWARDS LONG OVER DUE. I SAY HOORAH MSG PHIL-BAROS-AKEE RETIRED LIVING ON OAHU, HAWAII. COME ON OVER AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE NICKEL TOUR, FORD ISLAND, PEARL HARBOR, SCHOFIELD BARRACKS WHEELER AIRFIELD AND JOINT AIR-FORCE BASE HICKHAM AND OF COURSE KANEOHE MARINE BASE.

  3. richard states March 2, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    Great historic record and article for World War II Vets. My Mom’s side of the family are from Jamaica/Caymans. Her brother’s went Merchant Marines in Port Arthur, the U-boats sunk 159 ships in the Gulf, until the Navy re-acted with PBY’s. My Father joined the Navy in Brooklyn, NY, then Great Lakes training. He was on the Coral Sea. Like yourself, I joined the Marines, Vietnam Express. I got lucky I was a tanker for 6 months, then 9 months on a mountain top. Tanks left in early 1969.

    I can not say enough compliments about World War II Vet’s. Fast Forward to Vietnam: we did not care about ammo boxes of 7.62 or 5.56 rounds, or greasy C-Rats, we wanted our mail.

    Your Grandmother fulfilled a very important job in the war effort. Thanks for her service, and spotless Jeep.
    rick ONTOS

    My jeep had the tail, shot-off. Motor T patched it with beer cans. I have the picture. 1st Tank Battalion – Phu Bai

  4. louis a nieves March 2, 2022 at 1:04 am

    wow a great story. god bless. from a air force vietnam vet and a retired postal worker.

  5. David L Sanabria March 1, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    This is so great, it should be mentioned the next time anyone tryed to write about the history of WW II.

    MSgy USAF retired

  6. David Charles Arlund March 1, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    You should be very proud of her, I am. Wonderful tribute. Loved every bit of mail I got, no matter who was sorting and delivering.
    US Army E-5, Vietnam Veteran.

  7. Milton Torres March 1, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Dennis, may God bless you, your family and your business. Continue the good fight remembering all of those who go unnoticed. My respects to your grandmother for her serving heart and in guiding you of whom you are today. I don’t know you, but from your written word I can tell that you are a man of integrity. I hope that we can cut through the tape and that the authorizing personnel will recognize the 6888. Get a petition going to send to our congretional leaders, I will sign it and I know many other will too. Never give up, never surrender. USMC Doc, Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Semper Fi, do or die.

  8. Jenny March 1, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    Sir, thank you so very much for sharing this story. I’d love to see a book with this story and others from her unit published inside. For this world of texting, some will never know the love, joy, laughter, and sincere heart-felt connection that a letter written by a loved one can bring. My grama raised me too, and much of how I served the Air Force and worked hard to be a good mother came DIRECTLY from her. God Bless you.

  9. Gary Johnson March 1, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Awesome story. Just like many others said, there are many great accomplishments that Black veterans have made throughout all the wars that never get light. I thank you Sir, for allow us to share in your grandmother’s journey and history.

    V/r
    Gary S. Johnson
    SMSgt Ret, USAF

  10. Richard Reese March 1, 2022 at 10:27 am

    Richard Reese March 01, 2022 at 9:15 am- Reply

    Thank you for making this come to light, so many African American has made so many contribution to the building of American Proud. I’m a African American male who serviced in the US Army in the Viet Nam war, and this beautiful tribute to your Grandmother is so fine thank you, because history in this United State does not tell you the real contribution that African American played in the creation and making of the United State of America. Beautiful Honor thanks

    Richard Reese

  11. Cathy March 1, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Reading this makes me proud to be an African American woman as well as a combat veteran.

  12. Freeman March 1, 2022 at 4:25 am

    What an honor Dennis Williams, what an honor. I know you can’t help but to be proud and you should be as everyone whose grandmother served with the( Six Triple Eight) 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.
    This is such an inspiration to me to learn of such an endeavor that only they could do, it had to have been destined. There are tears in my eyes, I can’t cry cause I’m blushing too much from hearing of this accomplishment your grandmother along side of her all women all black battalion. And I would like to end it with this,May all the grandchildren or great grandchildren of the “SixTripleEight” bring their stories to the forefront that we may honor them as well. May peace, love and togetherness reign in our hearts,
    FreeMan US Army Aviation

  13. Jon A Williams February 28, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    These women need to be recognized
    For there great achievements and given any awards they are due. To many times have I come across stories of great men and women, from all races and creeds that are not receiving the awards they are do.
    Get off your ass you back water brass and get the awards to those who are so deserving.

  14. D. S. February 28, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Hooah, wow what an inspiring true-to-life story. I feel an amount of sadness while finally reading about the SixTripleEight Pioneers. I am a retired SGM U.S. Army African American woman. I honorably served in the US Army beginning in 1976 in the WAC. Never had I heard the story of Black Women Pioneers in the military more or less the 6888. I am honored to have served in the military on the backs of such greatness as your grandmother and her comrades. I will ensure that I forward this documentary and info to the Women Veterans that I meet and have affiliations with. Thank you so much for sharing this and God Bless the Women of SixTripleEight and their family for keeping this alive.

    SGM Ret., US Army

  15. 1SG (Ret.) Mitchell February 28, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you…you have made so many soldiers, families, and military personal happy. You are a true warrior and God sent (you and your unit) and it’s so appreciated. Also thank you to a grand son that marks history without fail. Hooah!

  16. Lawrence E Adams February 28, 2022 at 9:10 pm

    What a great story. No one who has not been in the military will understand how important the delivery of mail is to the serving members. Thank you Mr. Miller for your service.

  17. Jimmy Ford Sr February 28, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Semper FI.my growing up in the south in the fifty’s, be coming a Marine seeing how my grandma & father lived in the1880-90 it does me a healthy dose of respect of those men and women who back and shoulders we stand, I will proudly pass this part of our history on to my kids my grands & great kids.“ In the mist there is only one “

  18. Richard Guthrie February 28, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    Thank-you

  19. Charles Horsman February 28, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    Sgt. Williams, Thank you so much for educating me about the contribution and accomplishments of your Grandmother and the 6888th. They deserved recognition and thanks so long ago. And thank you for your service as a Marine and for being you!
    Semper Fi!

  20. Edward Blumberg PR2/PJ USN (Ret.) February 28, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    An amazing story about an amazing woman. You have every right to be proud of your grandmother. I think that someone should should propose a bill in the legislature to honor her and her sisters in THE SIX TRIPLE EIGHT! People need to know about this group and what they did for our country in one of the most trying times in our countries history.

  21. Rochella Rounds February 27, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Sir, I too enjoy hearing these stories of Black women who served in the military yesteryears. I was particularly interested in your grandmother’s international postal operations service time and her story was an inspiration to me. I too served in that capacity many years later. The feeling of making sure that piece of mail gets directly in the hands of someone who is probably missing home and feeling alone, makes a world of difference! That is something I share in common with your grandmother. Whether air, boat or train, the mail never stopped. No matter how it came or who it was going to, we never stopped until it was delivered to the lowest ranking to top commander. It was our job. Looking back, it was a pleasure. Thank you for sharing!

  22. VietVetInOhio February 26, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    What a great record of achievement those ladies accumulated!

  23. Bridgette Brown February 26, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    I’ve seen that pictures as a young lady. I drive a Jeep Wrangler and thought how heroic they look in a Willys Jeep. I honor those women each day and those Black women who served, and many Black soldiers forgotten or unable to tell their stories.

    I am glad their lives are honored, I can’t say that enough.

  24. Deborah Boak February 26, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Such a lovely tribute from a wonderful grandson! I had never hear of these truly brave, courageous and hardworking women of the Six Triple Eight before reading the story about your grandmother. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  25. Mig Gallagher February 26, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing your grandmother’s story about the 6888th. My father-in-law was a Postal Officer during WWII. In 1945, a colonel reviewing the Army Postal Service wrote, “A successful postal service for the armed forces is admittedly the greatest single factor affecting the morale of all troops.” How right he was! USMC (ret)

  26. Thomas McCrady. February 26, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you Dennis for a wonderful tribute for your Grandmother. Semper Fi Marine!

  27. Brenda Peterson February 26, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    Heart warming tribute! We need to start telling more of our stories. Many of us, black people, come from veterans who served generations ago.

  28. Ollie Oglesby Jr February 26, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    So many stories like your grandmother go untold or recognized in the American history. Thanks for informing us of this great American

    USMC RET
    1956-1977

  29. Jamie Brenner February 26, 2022 at 11:46 am

    Isn’t it amazing to find out so far after the fact how important women have been in Military operations? Women, especially black women have been marginalized for so long, but it makes me wonder if that time was really necessary. Could we, as a nation, look in the mirror at our racist and sexist attitudes and let them go earlier? (Like 100 years or so?) I guess not, but I don’t understand why.

    Thanks for sharing about your beautiful grandmother and the six triple 8. My grandmother also served in WWII, but she didn’t leave the US. She was an office worker in the Marine Corps. I joined and served six years in the Navy.

  30. Albert Dixon February 26, 2022 at 10:51 am

    My aunt served in that unit and possibly your grandmother knew her. She never talked much about it but I have a picture of her and two of herv friends. I only wish I knew their names. A blessing on your grandmother. They were proud women. Semper fi

  31. Linda February 24, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Sir thank you for this tribute to your grandmother. Being a woman who served I love reading about women especially ones that look like me who served before me and paved the way. Keep telling the story. A thank you is not always given but your grandmother and the 6888th selfless dedication gives others hope to keep moving forward.
    Inspired
    Linda 1984-2005

  32. Hap DeSimone February 24, 2022 at 9:45 am

    SGT Williams,
    There is overwhelming beauty in your words. Kindness and praise seem to be absent without leave in the modern diatribe, and it was with brotherly pleasure that I read your grandma’s story.
    I’m Italian/Ukrainian, born in McKeesport, but I feel like we must be related somehow! I was an Army Radio Operator in Viet Nam, but would have been nice to have served together with you.
    Kindness flows from your pen. Your Grandmother was an excellent teacher!
    Best Regards,
    Hap

  33. Judge Graham, Jr. February 24, 2022 at 9:43 am

    Awesome Tribute!

    V/r

    SCPO USN Retired

  34. emma pettigrew February 23, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    That is a beautiful tribute. Thank you.

    • Steven Holliday February 24, 2022 at 12:05 pm

      Hoo Aahh, and Hoo-Raa to your contribution to this Great America! Proud Americans! Lead the way!!
      US Army
      Sgm/Ret

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