COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus woman who served the troops during World War II is being remembered.
In 1945, Claire Waters was part of the “Six Triple Eight” Central Postal Directory Battalion and her legacy is still standing strong today.
Almost 900 women served overseas clearing heaps of mail sent to U.S. Troops during World War II. Millions of letters and packages had piled up. Many of the buildings the women worked in lacked heat and adequate lighting. The unit, the “Six Triple Eight,” dealt with racism and sexism. The battalion had three eight-hour shifts that operated seven days a week.
Waters moved to Ohio from Georgia, while her husband was away serving in the war. She would do her part as well — joining the all-female, multi-ethnic unit.
“Both of my parents served honorably in the army,” said Sandra Waters-Holley, Waters’ daughter.
With Waters’ husband, Dennis, serving in the Navy, Waters set out to serve her country. At 25 years old, she left Columbus and joined the ‘Six Triple Eight’ Central Postal Directory Battalion, which set off for Europe in 1945.
In three months, the women cleared a backlog of 17 million pieces of mail sent to soldiers. They then went on to France. In February 1946, they returned home to no fanfare.
“They thought they had the fortitude to get the job done, but her counterparts got all the glory and the honor,” said Waters-Holley.
Waters died at 82 in 2005. Her legacy lives on through an effort she started in 1983, “Project Help Clothing Ministry.”
“With Project Help, she had this burning desire, she talked to the Lord about it,” said Waters-Holley. “She said, ‘Sandy, the Lord said, ‘Go ahead and do it.’’ I said, ‘Mom the Lord tells you to do it, I will be there right by your side.’”
The ministry gifts new or gently used clothes to schools, churches, and service organizations. Rosemary Wade volunteered alongside Waters.
“I think when you give of yourself, you stay humble, you don’t take things for granted. You understand that it’s just the grace of God that you are where you are and you just want to help,” said Wade.
Wade also believes that without Water’s efforts, the community would be “lost.”
“I guess I would say lost, in the sense of not having the opportunity to have crossed her path and to be a recipient of what she had to offer,” said Wade.
Project Help is currently operating out of a temporary space with hopes of finding a permanent location. Last year, the U.S. House voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the women of the Six Triple Eight. A year earlier, the unit received honors from the U.S. Senate.