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Bill introduced by Higgins, honoring WWII veteran Indiana Hunt-Martin, signed into law


Fri, Oct 14th 2022 04:25 pm

Buffalo’s Central Park post office will be renamed for Six Triple Eight veteran who lived & worked in Buffalo, Niagara Falls

This week, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill, introduced by Congressman Brian Higgins, honoring World War II veteran Indiana Hunt-Martin. The legislation (H.R. 2142) designates Buffalo’s Central Park post office, located at 170 Manhattan Ave., as the Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office Building. The new namesake honors Women’s Army Corps (WAC) veteran Hunt-Martin, who served in World War II as a member of the only African American WAC unit to serve overseas.

“There is no doubt that Indiana Hunt-Martin was a trailblazer,” Higgins said. “Despite enduring racism and discrimination throughout her lifetime, she dutifully served her country and community. Thanks to persistent advocacy from the Western New York community, her family, and support from colleagues in the House and Senate, we are proud to continue honoring her legacy and telling her story long into the future.”

Hunt-Martin’s daughter, Janice M. Martin, said, “My mother, Indiana Hunt-Martin, was a member the of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion that consisted of more than 800 Black female soldiers who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to assist the Allied Front during World War II. She played an important role in boosting the morale among Americans by routing over 17 million pieces of mail destined for service members in the European Theater of Operations and their loved ones in the United States. I am elated to see my mother being honored at the Central Park post office. It will cement her legacy as a woman devoted to her country and community who always pushed forward for a greater good.”

6888th advocate Col. Edna W. Cummings said, “The Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office reminds us that, by restoring vital communication with loved ones through mail and improving troop morale, the Six Triple Eight helped our nation secure the Allied victory during WWII.”

During World War II, Hunt-Martin served as a member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (Six Triple Eight). As the only African American WAC unit deployed overseas during the war, they were tasked with processing and routing undelivered mail sent between families in the U.S. and soldiers stationed in Europe.

Higgins’ team said, “From separate drinking fountains to segregated rail cars, Indiana Hunt-Martin experienced racism firsthand. She endured both sexism and racism while serving in the Six Triple Eight, but no amount of discrimination prevented her from serving her country. Her courage and bravery paved the way for future generation of African American women serving in the military.”

In a letter supporting the post office dedication, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes wrote, “Ms. Hunt-Martin served in the 6888th Central Directory Battalion during WWII. The ‘six-triple-eight’ as it was known was the first African American female battalion and the only all-women battalion to be deployed overseas. She served our country Honorably. As your office successfully helped Indiana receive the honor, medals, and recognition earned and deserved after being honorably discharged, it is only fitting that your office assist with having the post office renamed in her honor.”

After graduating from Niagara Falls High School in 1940, Hunt-Martin worked for the Carborundum Co. before joining the Women’s Army Corps in September of 1944. She received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in November of 1945 and went on to work for the New York State Department of Labor in New York City, Niagara Falls and Buffalo until her retirement in 1987. Before her passing on Sept. 21, 2020, at age 98, Hunt-Martin frequented the Central Park post office at least once per week to purchase stamps, pick up mail, and send letters.

The idea to rename the post office for Hunt-Martin was brought to Higgins by local veterans, who issued letters of support for the effort.

Korea Defense veteran Sandi Williams, president and founder of United Veterans of Buffalo, issued a letter of support, stating in part, “I am so glad to have known her (Hunt-Martin). She was a long-time member of the American Legion, and we were once veterans of the same post. Indiana Hunt-Martin was well respected in the community, and she will be deeply missed. Thank you for honoring this great American hero.”

Debbera M. Ransom, founding commander of the Johnetta R. Cole AMVETS Post No.24 wrote, “This honor of Indiana Hunt-Martin is an acknowledgement of the outstanding work that was done by her [Indiana Hunt-Martin] and her comrades of the historic 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion that courageously, under dire circumstances, kept the mail moving during World War II. Their motto being ‘No Mail, No [Low] Morale’.”

Dolores Ross-Williams, president of the Bennett-Wells American Legions Auxiliary #1780 wrote, “We the member of the Auxiliary highly support the Central Park Post Office, located at 170 Manhattan Avenue in Buffalo being named after one of our former members, Indiana Hunt-Martin. She is very deserving of this honor. Indiana was a supportive and dedicated member of our Auxiliary since 2012 and remained a member until her death.”

In 2014, marking the 69th anniversary of her honorable discharge, Higgins honored her work by presenting Pvt. Hunt-Martin with the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button for her service during World War II. In 2019, the Army awarded the 6888th the Meritorious Unit Commendation. Higgins is also an original cosponsor on H.R. 1012, the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021, which was signed into law by Biden in March. The bill honors the work of the 6888th Battalion and awarded those in the unit the Congressional Gold Medal.

The bill, led by Higgins, was introduced with bipartisan support from the full New York delegation of the House of Representatives. Higgins will now work with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to secure a plaque of dedication and organize an official renaming ceremony.

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