Senate passes bill introduced by Higgins
Congressman Brian Higgins on Tuesday announced full Congressional approval of legislation (H.R. 2142) designating the central park post office in Buffalo as the “Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office Building.” Hunt-Martin, who lived in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, served as a member of the famous Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion during World War II.
The legislation, led by Higgins, advanced through the House Oversight Committee and was approved by the House of Representatives in February. At Higgins’ urging, the Senate approved the bill on Tuesday, sending it to the president’s desk for final authorization.
Higgins first celebrated Hunt-Martin’s service during a ceremony in 2014, where he presented the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) veteran with the military service medals she earned 69 years earlier. For her service during World War II, Hunt-Martin earned the Honorable Service Lapel Button, the World War II Victory Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal.
Hunt-Martin joined the Women’s Army Corps on Sept. 15, 1944, and served overseas until her honorable discharge on Nov. 10, 1945.
Higgins’ team said, “The Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion was a one-of-a-kind African American unit within the Women’s Army Corps assigned to sort and redirect millions of pieces of backlogged mail sent to U.S. soldiers serving in the war. The unit worked around the clock, seven days a week, processing an incredible 65,000 pieces of mail per shift under the service motto ‘No mail, low morale.’ In total, the 688th Central Postal Director Battalion handled 17 million pieces of mail.
“Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order banning racial discrimination within U.S. defense operations in 1941, segregation continued within the Armed Forces. Indiana Hunt-Martin recalled experiencing and witnessing discrimination as she traveled to Fort Oglethorpe for training, including: a train stop where passengers were separated into railcars based on race, separate restrooms and drinking fountains when she left the Georgia base, and fellow service members getting in trouble for refusing to sit in the back of the bus.”
Hunt-Martin moved to Niagara Falls as a young child in 1926. She graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1940 and worked at the Carborundum Co. before joining the Women’s Army Corps. After serving in WWII, she worked for the New York State Department of Labor in New York City before transferring to the Labor Department’s Niagara Falls office in 1949, and later to the Buffalo office in 1964. She retired in 1987 after 41 years with the Department of Labor. Upon retirement, she was active in the community and veteran organizations.
Hunt-Martin passed away on Sept. 21, 2020, at 98 years old, and was laid to rest in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls.
In addition to serving in the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Battalion, from 1978 on she frequented the Central Park Post Office, at 170 Manhattan Ave., Buffalo, on a weekly basis to purchase stamps, pick up mail, and send letters.
After the bill is signed by the president, Higgins will coordinate with the U.S. Postal Service for a formal renaming ceremony and plaque placement honoring Hunt-Martin.