We are delighted to share this wonderful recap of the inaugural 6888th Legacy Tour that guest Natasha Hinds posted on Facebook. Edna W. Cummings, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired), who championed the effort with Congress to enact the passage of the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act, led the tour. By Natasha’s account, Col. Cummings was instrumental in making it a very special experience. To quote Natasha, who also served in the U.S. Army, “Our fully immersive tour to Walk in the Six Triple Eight’s Shoes has left an indelible mark on my heart and mind.”
6888th Legacy Tour Recap
By Natasha Hinds
I just completed an incredible journey from Birmingham, UK, to King Edward’s School to Stratford-upon-Avon to Betchley Park to London to Normandy, France, to Rouen, France, to Paris, France.
Over the past 10 days, I had the privilege of joining the 6888 Legacy Tour: Walking in Her Shoes with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours and let me tell you, it was an experience like no other!
The Six Triple Eight was the only all African American woman unit (855 total) to deploy to Europe during WWII and sorted 17 million pieces of back logged mail in only 3 months.
Only six of the women from the Six Triple Eight are alive today.
In March 2022, after almost 80 years, the 6888th finally received recognition for their amazing work during WWII thanks to COL (ret) Edna W. Cummings (Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Champion, Six Triple Eight Executive Producer, Historian, MSG (ret) Helm-Frazier (Six Triple Eight Advocate) and their advocacy teams.
During this tour, I had the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary accomplishments of the 6888th and other African American units during World War II. Their bravery, resilience, and unwavering dedication to duty were truly awe-inspiring.
I learned about the 6888th during my 16th year of military service, but learned 99.9% of what I know now from Colonel (ret) Edna Cummings as she is the quintessential Subject Matter Expert in African American Military History contributions.
The knowledge gained during my trip (4 years post U.S. Army retirement) exceeded my expectations. Prior to this trip, I didn’t know anything about the 320th Balloon Barrage Battalion, the Red Ball Express, and many other contributions by African American service members during WWII, but I know now.
What made this journey even more special was the presence of the daughters, sons, nieces and grandchildren of the women who served in the 6888th. It was an absolute joy to engage with them, listen to their stories, and witness their deep pride and love for their mothers/grandmothers/aunts.
We arrived as a group of strangers, but as we embarked on this shared experience, something magical happened. We formed a bond that transcended our different backgrounds and celebrated our common heritage; much like what happens in military units. Laughter, tears, and heartfelt conversations filled our days, creating unforgettable memories that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
As we bid farewell, we made a promise to continue honoring the legacy of the 6888th of World War II and will reunite again in the future.
During our trip, we went to several locations where the 6888th worked, slept, marched, met with community leaders and generals, and had R&R.
We learned about Windrush 75, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of Caribbean contributions to rebuilding England after WWII and how they persevered despite racism and discrimination.
Here is a video of the celebration our delegation attended. COL (ret) Cummings gave a presentation about the 6888th around the 1:57:57 mark.
During our visit to King Edward’s school, Helen Murdoch from Women At War gave us a thorough historical presentation about the 6888th and British women units that played vital roles during WWII. She set up a beautiful shadow box display and also wore a U.S. Women’s Army Corps uniform with authentic accessories.
The descendants of the 6888th led a wreath laying ceremony in honor of the three women of the 6888th, who are buried at Normandy American Cemetery in Normandy, France. SGT Dolores M. Browne from Connecticut, PFC Mary H. Bankston from New York, PFC Mary J. Barlow from Connecticut.
We attended a street renaming ceremony with the mayor of Petit Quevilly in Rouen, France and street signs will be named after LTC (ret) Charity Adams (BN Commander, 6888th).
Our fully immersive tour to Walk in the Six Triple Eight’s Shoes has left an indelible mark on my heart and mind.
I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours and the great niece of Stephen Abrose (Talia Ambrose, who took care of all of our logistics in three countries and 8 cities/hotels, shared information about historical sites, coordinated and organized meetings, and did all of the French interpretations for us), historians, COL (ret) Edna W. Cummings and Kevin Hymel, Garry Stewart and his team from @Recognize Online for promoting positive diversity by educating people about the heritage and culture of the African Caribbean community, Helen from Women.At.War, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (first Lord Mayor of Indian descent) and Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon for the lovely receptions and welcoming us into their cities and all those involved in making this tour possible. Your efforts to preserve history and ensure these stories are heard are truly commendable.