One Woman’s Army
World War II – Major Charity Adams – 6888 Postal Battalion
One Woman’s Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC (Texas A & M University Military History Series by Charity Adams Earley, is a memoir by a pioneering African-American soldier of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) of the United States Army. The bulk of the book focuses on the period from July 1942 to December 1945, and details her service both in the continental U.S. and in the European theater of operations.
The author looks back at the assignments she held, which included being on the staff of the WAC training center in Des Moines and commanding a battalion-size postal unit overseas. She also recalls the time when the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was transformed into the WAC, thus becoming “an official branch of the army.”
Earley tells her story in a straightforward manner. She recalls many humorous and/or ironic incidents that happened along the way, as well as some appalling examples of racial prejudice and insensitivity that she faced. I was also very interested by the leadership challenges that she encountered as she rose up the ranks. She also looks at some of the very practical issues regarding the incorporation of women in the military, such as providing them with proper uniforms.
Somewhere in England, Major Chairty E. Adams and Capt Abbie N. Campbell, inspect the first contingent of Negro members of the Women’s Army Corps assigned to overseas service. 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn., February 15, 1945 (Lawrence E. Walker Foundation Collection).
The book is richly illustrated throughout. There are photos of some of the historic documents from the author’s career. There are also over 40 photos detailing her service and showing many of the other soldiers–black and white, male and female, officer and enlisted–with whom she served. I particularly enjoyed the photos showing the African-American women soldiers in action. Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams Earley was a true military trailblazer, and I was absolutely fascinated by the story she tells here. Inspiring and educational, this book is a valuable contribution to the fields of women’s studies, African-American studies, and military history. Recommended companion text: “A Black Woman’s Civil War Memoirs,” by Susie King Taylor., by Michael J. Mazza.