Major Charity Adams Earley
World War II- Major Charity Adams Earley 6888 Postal Battalion
The eight hundred WAC’s of the Army’s Central Postal Directory Battalion, the ‘Six Triple Eight,’ were stationed overseas and in charge of redirecting all ‘V-Mail’ for Europe. Major Charity Adams Earley was the Battalion’s Commanding Officer.
Charity Edna Adams Earley (born 1918–died 2002) was the first African American woman to be an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later WACS) and was the commanding officer of the first battalion of African American women to serve overseas during World War II.
African-American soldier and officer Charity Edna Adams Earley was born March 20, 1918, in Columbia, South Carolina, the oldest of four children of a minister and a teacher.
Adams grew up in a family where reading was as natural as breathing; the house was always filled with books of all kinds, and her father was a scholar who was fluent in Greek and Hebrew. Adams graduated as valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School and graduated from Wilberforce University in Ohio in math and physics. After graduation, Adams returned to Columbia and taught for four years while attending graduate school at Ohio State University.
Charity Adasm, Women’s Army Corp’s 6888 Regiment Fort Des Moines, Iowa (c. Martha S. Putney, Marmy McLeod Bethune Council House)
In 1942 she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which later became the Women’s Army Corps. In 1944, the Army gave Adams an overseas assignment, the first contingent of Black WACs for this degree of duty. With another officer, she traveled to Scotland to meet her troops, who became part of the postal directory service. Maintaining morale was an important part of her job and, for African-American women in Europe in 1945, beauty parlors were unavailable. With the help of other officers, Adams managed to requisition appropriate supplies for the women and a place for them to have their hair done.
Later that year she assumed command of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. They were responsible for delivering mail to approximately seven million American troops stationed in Europe. Wartime security required that letters sent home be read and censored, a task usually assigned to the company officers. The women began to socialize with the citizens of Birmingham, most of whom had had little or no previous contact with Blacks. As the war began to wind down, old problems arose once again.
Many men were coming through the area, and they were not accustomed to dealing with female soldiers. Many of the men resented the presence of women in the military and especially resented the presence of African-American women. Adams had to look out for her troops and try to keep things on an even keel. With the end of the war, she decided it was time to leave the service, having been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Early life and Education
Practicing my official stance
Born in 1918 in Kittrell, North Carolina, Adams’ father was a minister and her mother was a teacher. Adams was the oldest of four children. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and Wilberforce University in Ohio, majoring in math and physics. After graduation she returned to Columbia, teaching school and attended graduate school at Ohio State University during the summer months.
Career – Women’s Army Corps
Adams enlisted in the U.S. Army’s Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in July 1942. She was the first African American woman to be an officer in the WAAC. Later she served as the commanding officer and battalion commander of the first battalion of African American women (6888th Central Postal Direction) to serve overseas during WWII (in England). They helped soldiers get mail during World War II.
After serving in the Army, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from Ohio State University and became an educator at Tennessee A&I College and Georgia State College.
In 1949 Adams married Stanley A. Earley. She moved to Switzerland for a time while her husband was a medical student. She returned to the US and settled in Dayton, Ohio.
Awards and Honors
Adams was listed on the Smithsonian Institution’s 110 most important historical Black women, Black Women Against the Odds, in 1982. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 1993. She was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame in 1991.
Earley was included in the 1997 edition of the BellSouth African-American History Calendar.