In tribute to Anna Mae Wilson Robertson

By Hon. GWEN MOORE
House of Representatives Wisconsin

From left to right Robert A. Cocroft, Brigadier General (U.S. Army Retired), Anna Mae Wilson Robertson and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. A Tribute to Anna Mae Wilson Robertson

From left to right Robert A. Cocroft, Brigadier General (U.S. Army Retired), Anna Mae Wilson Robertson and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. A Tribute to Anna Mae Wilson Robertson

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate and honor a mother, volunteer and veteran, Anna Mae Wilson Robertson. Mrs. Robertson, a long-time resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will celebrate her 90th birthday with family and friends in 2014.

Annie Mae Wilson married John Robertson, who passed away in 1982, and their 33 year union produced 8 children. Mrs. Robertson’s work history includes jobs at Marquette University and St. Camillus Health Center.

In 1945, Mrs. Robertson enlisted in the Army and served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion (The Six Triple Eight).

6888 comprised of 855 women has a long list of firsts and accomplishments, including the first African American all female battalion and the first and ONLY all women battalion to be deployed overseas.

6888 confronted life threatening German U Boats on route to Europe in February, 1945 and upon their arrival in England were greeted by Buzz Bombs.

Letters and care packages vital to the morale of soldiers were delayed across Western Europe.

The battalion developed a new mail system housed in three air hangars from floor to ceiling for distribution to the 7 million Army, Navy, Marine Corps, civilian and Red Cross Personnel in Europe.

The task was daunting with many letters addressed improperly; some letters were over two years old, and nearly 7500 Robert Smiths to be properly identified.

Working conditions were abysmal with no heat in the hangars, windows blacked out due to air raids and the poor light contributed to eyestrain.

However, 6888 successfully processed 65,000 pieces of mail on each of the 3 shifts, 7 days a week.

6888 operated under the challenges of ‘dual segregation’ being women and African American; they were not allowed to sleep, shower nor eat with other female personnel or soldiers while in Birmingham, England.

They were housed in a former boarding school and out of necessity operated their own mess hall, hair salon, and motor pool adding to their workload.

The women completed their assignment in 3 months instead of 6 months and were then reassigned to Rouen, France.

While in France, they no longer faced the challenges of segregation. Again 6888 completed their assignment in 3 months in Rouen, France and were reassigned to Paris, their last assignment with the war ending a short time later.

Three women of 6888 lost their lives overseas and were buried in France.

The 6888 battalion was shipped home to Fort Dix and immediately disbanded.

Anna Mae Robertson Wilson was a member of this “Band of Sisters’’, who served honorably, and whose story was largely untold and its successes not celebrated. Mr. Speaker, Anna Mae Wilson Robertson and 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion performed above and beyond expectations.

I am proud to celebrate her 90th Birthday and her accomplishments as a veteran and resident of Milwaukee.