Like many Americans in the 1940s, Charity Adams started her service in response to the attack on America and the threats caused by global war. Born and raised in a segregated society, by the time the war began, the 22-year-old Adams had already graduated high school as class valedictorian, completed a bachelor’s degree, and started a career as a teacher. In the middle of pursuing a master’s degree in psychology in 1942, Adams paused her education to serve her nation in the newly created Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Recognized for her scholarly skills and abilities in leadership, Adams was assigned to Officer Candidate School. Upon her commissioning, she stayed at the OCS to train subsequent classes of leaders.
In 1944, at the age of 25, Adams was selected to command the first and only unit of predominately Black women deployed to the European Theater of Operations during WWII. Leading the 6888th Central Postal Directory in England, Adams’ unit was tasked with delivering mail to and from nearly seven million Soldiers fighting in Europe. Adams’ unit was effectively the lifeline for Soldier morale – processing, sorting and sending along the tens of millions of love letters, messages from family, and news from home that sustained the spirits of American Soldiers fighting on the front lines.
Serving at the peak of the American war in Europe, Adams’ unit handled nearly 200,000 letters per day and close to six million pieces of mail each month.
Gender discrimination limited her promotion to lieutenant colonel, the highest rank attainable during the war by any woman other than the lone colonel serving as the Women’s Army Corps director. But her effectiveness was made clear when it took three units of men to replace her battalion after they disbanded.