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Valley veteran broke down barriers and inspires today's military personnel

Major Fannie Griffin McClendon was part of the historic "Six Triple Eight" battalion to serve during World War II.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Long before the internet or smartphones – mail was the only way troops on the front lines could communicate with loved ones back home.

Early on during World War II, the military's mail system was lagging behind in England. The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion - also called the “Six Triple Eight” - consisted entirely of black women and was created to fix the system.

“In some cases, the mail had been sitting around for months,” said Major Fannie Griffin McClendon, a 101-year-old veteran who served in the historic battalion and is one of only a handful of members still alive today.

The mail was the link between home and the front lines for those in combat. In just three months, the battalion was able to fix the mailing system ahead of a 6-month deadline.

Their credo - “No mail, low morale”

“It was wonderful to us to see that the men got their mail, and the girls were really happy to work with that,” said Major McClendon.

Service to the country is very important to Major McClendon.

“It meant a lot to me because I was in both the Army and Air Force,” said McClendon.

Serving also created opportunities for her to see the world.

“I loved history and geography. This gave me the chance to get to places I read about. Knew about and so forth,” said Major McClendon.

The women of the “Six Triple Eight” battalion not only proved doubters wrong – they knocked down barriers for future generations of women to serve their country.

“I hope I did. I hope I did,” said Major McClendon.

In March, President Joe Biden signed legislation awarding the battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal for their service.

RELATED: Students study B-17 in Mesa ahead of trip to help recover missing WWII service members

RELATED: Those Who Serve: Valley organization honors Gold Star family with flight in vintage aircraft

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