A 102-year-old World War II veteran, Catherine Romay Johnson Davis, was given the Congressional Gold Medal at the Montgomery City Hall in Alabama for her work in a segregated mail unit that served during the war on Tuesday. The centenarian was stationed in Europe as one of six serving members of an all-women battalion of the most prominent Black brigade in the war– the 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion.
The ceremony took place on July 26 on the 74th anniversary of the desegregation of the armed forces, and Davis received the highest honor that a civilian can receive by the US Congress.
“I never thought anything like this would happen to me,” Davis said on AP as she received her award. Not only did she get a medal and a standing ovation from onlookers and supporters, but she was also given a replacement wartime uniform since her original was stolen from her car after her discharge.
The 102-year-old woman continued, “I think it’s an exciting event, and it’s something for families to remember. It isn’t mine, just mine. No. It’s everybody’s.”
The proud World War II veteran affirmed that she felt like she wanted to be there for all those who had passed away in her battalion before they could be commemorated.
The 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion was tasked with clearing the extensive backlog for the military; Letters and home packages sent to troops were the connection to home for those fighting and severely behind in processing. They worked under a motto that highlighted the importance of their work, “No Mail, Low Morale.”
Although they were doubted, Davis said, “We all had to be broken in, so to speak, to do what had to be done; The mail situation was in such horrid shape they didn’t think the girls could do it. But they proved a point.” She confirmed in an interview.
Davis is the oldest of the surviving members of the battalion.