Text: S.633 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Engrossed in Senate (12/10/2020)

[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 633 Engrossed in Senate (ES)]

  2d Session
                                 S. 633


                                 AN ACT

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the Women's Army 
    Corps who were assigned to the 6888th Central Postal Directory 
             Battalion, known as the ``Six Triple Eight''.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ```Six Triple Eight' Congressional 
Gold Medal Act of 2020''.


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) On July 1, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 
        into law legislation that established the Women's Army Corps 
        (referred to in this section as the ``WAC'') as a component in 
        the Army. The WAC was converted from the Women's Army Auxiliary 
        Corps (referred to in this section as the ``WAAC''), which had 
        been created in 1942 without official military status. First 
        Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of 
        the National Council of Negro Women, advocated for the 
        admittance of African-American women into the newly formed WAC 
        to serve as officers and enlisted personnel.
            (2) Dubbed ``10 percenters'', the recruitment of African-
        American women to the WAAC was limited to 10 percent of the 
        population of the WAAC to match the proportion of African-
        Americans in the national population. Despite an executive 
        order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 banning 
        racial discrimination in civilian defense industries, the Armed 
        Forces remained segregated. Enlisted women served in segregated 
        units, participated in segregated training, lived in separate 
        quarters, ate at separate tables in mess halls, and used 
        segregated recreational facilities. Officers received their 
        officer candidate training in integrated units but lived under 
        segregated conditions. Specialist and technical training 
        schools were integrated in 1943. During World War II, a total 
        of 6,520 African-American women served in the WAAC and the WAC.
            (3) After several units of White women were sent to serve 
        in the European Theater of Operations (referred to in this 
        section as the ``ETO'') during World War II, African-American 
        organizations advocated for the War Department to extend the 
        opportunity to serve overseas to African-American WAC units.
            (4) In November 1944, the War Department approved sending 
        African-American women to serve in Europe. A battalion of all 
        African-American women drawn from the WAC, the Army Service 
        Forces, and the Army Air Forces was created and designated as 
        the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (referred to in 
        this section as the ``6888th''), which was nicknamed the ``Six 
        Triple Eight''.
            (5) Army officials reported a shortage of qualified postal 
        officers within the ETO, which resulted in a backlog of 
        undelivered mail. As Allied forces drove across Europe, the 
        ever-changing locations of servicemembers hampered the delivery 
        of mail to those servicemembers. Because 7,000,000 individuals 
        from the United States were serving in the ETO, many of those 
        individuals had identical names. As an example, 7,500 such 
        individuals were named Robert Smith. One general predicted that 
        the backlog in Birmingham, England would take 6 months to 
        process and the lack of reliable mail service was hurting 
            (6) In March 1945, the 6888th arrived in Birmingham. Upon 
        their arrival, the 6888th found warehouses filled with millions 
        of pieces of mail intended for members of the Armed Forces, 
        United States Government personnel, and Red Cross workers 
        serving in the ETO.
            (7) The 6888th created effective processes and filing 
        systems to track individual servicemembers, organize 
        ``undeliverable'' mail, determine the intended recipient for 
        insufficiently addressed mail, and handle mail addressed to 
        servicemembers who had died. Adhering to their motto of ``No 
        mail, low morale'', the women processed an average of 65,000 
        pieces of mail per shift and cleared the 6-month backlog of 
        mail within 3 months.
            (8) The 6888th traveled to Rouen, France in May 1945 and 
        worked through a separate backlog of undelivered mail dating 
        back as far as 3 years.
            (9) At the completion of their mission, the entire unit 
        returned to the United States. The 6888th was discontinued on 
        March 9, 1946, at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
            (10) The accomplishments of the 6888th in Europe encouraged 
        the General Board, United States Forces, European Theater of 
        Operations to adopt the following premise in their study of the 
        WAC issued in December 1945: ``[T]he national security program 
        is the joint responsibility of all Americans irrespective of 
        color or sex'' and ``the continued use of colored, along with 
        white, female military personnel is required in such strength 
        as is proportionately appropriate to the relative population 
        distribution between colored and white races''.
            (11) With the exception of smaller units of African-
        American nurses who served in Africa, Australia, and England, 
        the 6888th was the only African-American women's unit to serve 
        overseas during World War II.
            (12) The members of the ``Six Triple Eight'' received the 
        European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Women's 
        Army Corps Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal 
        for their service.


    (a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design in honor of the women of the 6888th Central 
Postal Directory Battalion (commonly known as the ``Six Triple Eight'') 
in recognition of--
            (1) the pioneering military service of those women;
            (2) the devotion to duty of those women; and
            (3) the contributions made by those women to increase the 
        morale of all United States personnel stationed in the European 
        Theater of Operations during World War II.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award described 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to in this 
Act as the ``Secretary'') shall strike the gold medal with suitable 
emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--After the award of the gold medal under 
        subsection (a), the medal shall be given to the Smithsonian 
        Institution, where the medal shall be available for display, as 
        appropriate, and made available for research.
            (2) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
        the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received 
        under paragraph (1) available elsewhere, particularly at--
                    (A) appropriate locations associated with the 
                6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion;
                    (B) the Women in Military Service for America 
                    (C) the United States Army Women's Museum;
                    (D) the National World War II Museum and Memorial; 
                    (E) any other location determined appropriate by 
                the Smithsonian Institution.


    Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the 
Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal 
struck under section 3 at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the 
medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and 
overhead expenses.


    (a) National Medals.--Medals struck under this Act are national 
medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
    (b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, 
United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be 
considered to be numismatic items.

            Passed the Senate December 10, 2020.



  2d Session

                                 S. 633


                                 AN ACT

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the Women's Army 
    Corps who were assigned to the 6888th Central Postal Directory 
             Battalion, known as the ``Six Triple Eight''.

Share This