Hunt-Martin served in Europe with renowned Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion
Congressman Brian Higgins on Monday joined the U.S. Postal Service and Western New York community in a ceremony officially renaming the Buffalo post office, at 170 Manhattan Ave., the Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office Building.
The effort, led by Higgins in the U.S. House of Representatives, dedicates the facility in honor of Pvt. Hunt-Martin, who was a member of the first African American Women’s Army Corps unit, and the only women’s unit to serve in Europe during World War II.
“Indiana Hunt-Martin was a trailblazer. As a member of the renowned Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion, she played a critical role in wartime communications, keeping soldiers and families connected during the war,” Higgins said. “We introduced legislation to rename the Central Park Post Office to honor her service and keep her story alive for generations to come. We are proud to see this dedication come to life, stamping in the hearts and minds of all who visit Pvt. Indiana Hunt-Martin’s role and legacy as an American military hero.”
Janice M. Martin, the daughter of Indiana Hunt-Martin, said, “I am thankful for being a part of this moment. I know my mother would be very proud of this moment as her family, community, and fellow veterans gather to help dedicate this Central Park post office in her honor.”
“My grandma was passionate about the mail,” said Hunt-Martin’s grandson,” Andre B. Theobalds. “I’m thankful that she’ll be remembered in her community in this special way!”
“The newly named Indiana Hunt-Martin Post Office Building is a wonderful way to honor the life and legacy of Pvt. Indiana Hunt-Martin, who was such an inspiration to me and to many people in the Buffalo community,” Mayor Byron Brown said. “As part of the legendary Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion, Pvt. Hunt-Martin broke barriers with no fear in a military segregated by race and gender, and lived an exemplary life that truly embodied what it meant to be a good citizen. I thank Congressman Brian Higgins for leading the effort to dedicate this facility in her name – another daily reminder of the tremendous contributions African American women have made and continue to make in every branch of the U.S. military.”
A press release noted, “After graduating from Niagara Falls High School in 1940, Hunt-Martin worked at the Carborundum Co. before she joined the Women’s Army Corps on Sept. 5, 1944. She experienced racism and segregation first-hand, but refused to let discrimination prevent her from dutifully serving her country. Her legacy has paved the way for current and future generations of African American women serving in the military.”
Hunt-Martin became a member of the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion during World War II. The battalion sorted and redirected millions of backlogged letters and packages sent to the soldiers. They were required to maintain accurate information cards for more than 7 million U.S. military, civilian and Red Cross personnel serving in the European Theater of Operation. Hunt-Martin and fellow members of the Six Triple Eight played a critical role in processing and routing undelivered mail to restore communications between U.S. soldiers serving in Europe and their families, working around the clock to deliver approximately 65,000 pieces of mail each shift.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on Nov. 10, 1945, Hunt-Martin went on to work in New York City for the U.S. Department of Labor until 1949 when she was transferred to the Niagara Falls office. She was later transferred to the Buffalo office in 1964 before retiring in 1986. From 1978 to her passing in 2020, Hunt-Martin frequented the Central Park Post Office weekly to purchase stamps, pick up mail, and send letters.
Following her military service, Hunt-Martin stayed active in her community among fellow veterans and neighbors. She was a member of the ERIECO American Legion Women’s Post 1586, the AMVETS 5 Henry Pollard Post, the American Legion Bennett Wells Post 1780, the Pratt Willert Community Center Seniors Club and New Hope Baptist Church.
Andre Theobalds, Janice Martin, Congressman Brian Higgins and Buffalo Postmaster David Trainer. (Submitted photo)
Debbera M. Ransom, founding commander of the Johnetta R. Cole AMVETS Post No. 24, said, "In the presence of Mrs. Indiana Hunt Martin, a true embodiment of service to our nation, I discovered the essence of honor. Hearing her remarkable journey as part of the renowned Six Triple Eight Postal Battalion in World War II from a seasoned veteran left me in awe of her legacy. Today marks a momentous occasion – the day when the stars align for a post office to bear her name, an act as fitting and enduring as her dedication to duty. Let this renaming stand as a testament to the valor and commitment that Mrs. Indiana Hunt Martin represents, an everlasting tribute to a remarkable patriot."
Retired Col. Edna W. Cummings, a Six Triple Eight advocate, said, “The post office dedication embodies the resilience and perseverance of Ms. Hunt-Martin, the community she loved, and our nation. I am grateful that she blazed a trail for my service and future generations.”
In 2014, marking the 69th anniversary of her honorable discharge, Higgins presented Hunt-Martin with the medals she earned while serving overseas, including the Women’s Army Corps Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.
Hunt-Martin passed away at the age of 98 in September of 2020. She is laid to rest at the historic Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls. Before her passing, she was honored and excited to learn that the Central Park Post Office would be dedicated to her.
On May 30, 2023, Stevens Avenue in the City of Buffalo, in the neighborhood where she lived for many years, was dedicated as Indiana Hunt-Martin Way.
The idea to rename the Central Park Post Office for Hunt-Martin was brought to Higgins by local veterans, who issued letters of support for the effort. Higgins introduced the bill in May 2021 and it was signed into law by President Joe Biden in October 2022.
Higgins is also an original cosponsor of the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021, which was signed into law by Biden in March 2022. The bill honors the members of the Six Triple Eight Battalion and awarded the unit, including Hunt-Martin, the Congressional Gold Medal.