PHOENIX—In honor of Veterans Day, Rep. Greg Stanton recorded the oral history of a local U.S. Army World War II veteran for the Library of Congress. Stanton interviewed 99-year-old Maj. Fannie Griffin McClendon, one of nearly 800 women in the Army’s first and only all-Black, all-female battalion to serve overseas, for the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project.
Stanton met with Maj. McClendon this weekend in her Tempe home to hear first-hand about her experience being deployed to Europe to process mail sent to the troops.
“Major McClendon’s story—and the story of her battalion—is remarkable and deserves to be heard,” said Stanton. “The Veterans History Project embodies what it means to honor our troops and never forget their service and sacrifice. Major McClendon’s story will now be included among tens of thousands of recorded oral histories in the archive.”
McClendon was deployed in 1945 with a division of the Women’s Army Corps: the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, or the “Six-Triple-Eight.” Their mission was to address the challenges in managing a postal system that would reach the troops, as there were serious delays in successfully delivering soldiers’ mail sent from loved ones at home. Organizing, sorting and delivering the millions of backlogged letters was an enormous undertaking.
She told Stanton about the importance of getting those letters and gifts to the troops—what it meant to them and how it boosted morale significantly.
“We were sent to Birmingham, England. Our job was to see to it that we got as much mail to the men as we could,” McClendon said about getting through the mail backlog. “They expected us to take about two months to do it, and we did it in six weeks.”
McClendon reflected with Stanton on her time in the service.
“It was to me history-making in that I learned geography and loved history in school—and to go to places I had read about or heard about, to me it just brought back things I had learned in school,” she recalled. “I still think about it even today.”
After the end of the war, McClendon was discharged from the Army. In 1950, she joined the Air Force, serving a total of 26 years in the military.
Stanton and his office will now work with the Library of Congress to get Major McClendon’s oral history included in the Veterans History Project archives.
The goal of the initiative, started in 2000, is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the experiences of war. The full review process could take several months.
Stanton’s team plans to continue supporting local veterans and plans to interview others for inclusion in the Library of Congress project.