Ms. Veasey, one of the last surviving members of the battalion, died on March 9 in Raleigh, N.C., a few weeks past her 100th birthday. Her death was announced by the Haywood Funeral Home in Raleigh.
After serving in the military, Ms. Veasey had a long career at her alma mater in Raleigh, what is now St. Augustine’s University, and became involved in the local branch of the N.A.A.C.P., serving as its president in the mid-1960s.
But, especially with the heightened appreciation of “greatest generation” veterans that began in the 1990s, it was her war service that people wanted to hear about. And her battalion’s work carried an importance beyond the mere moving of mail.
“The greatest legacy of the 6888th was in changing the perception of the capabilities of women of color,” Beth Ann Koelsch, curator of the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said by email. “Their success challenged the stereotype of African-American women, which was that they were only qualified for menial labor.
“The women of the 6888th were under an incredible spotlight,” Ms. Carter added, “and they knew that any failure or misbehavior on their part would reflect upon all African Americans and all women. They struggled against prejudice, but in all accounts I have read, these women talk with great pride about their service.”
Millie Louise Dunn was born in Raleigh on Jan. 31, 1918, one of six children. She graduated from Washington High School there and then worked briefly for the county extension service before telling her family that she wanted to enlist.
Her mother, she later said, was skeptical because Millie was small and had not been healthy as a child. But she volunteered in late 1942, took the written and physical entrance examinations at Fort Bragg, N.C., in early 1943 and soon found herself bound for training in Colorado and Texas.
“Was this the first time you’d been away from home for any length of time?” the interviewer taking her oral history in 2000 asked her.
Her reply: “That was the first time I had been away from home, period.”
Ms. Veasey initially served in Texas in clerical capacities but was then selected to join the newly created 6888th. Being ticketed for overseas required her to undergo a more rigorous level of training at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia.
“You’re trained that if gas is dropped, you have to put on your gas mask,” she said. “Then if a plane is coming over, they show you how you go into the trenches. That was rough, the hardest thing.”
She also did abandon-ship drills, though she did not need that skill on her trip to Europe aboard the repurposed Queen Elizabeth liner. It was a miserable voyage nonetheless.
“I was seasick the whole time,” she said, so much so that, late in the trip, when she was finally able to join the larger group, someone in the mess hall was surprised by the new face.
“The fellow said to me, ‘How did you get on this ship?’ ” she recalled.
She was clerk for the battalion’s Company B. The “six triple eight,” as the battalion was called, was under the command of Major Charity Edna Adams, who, after her marriage, added her husband’s name, Earley, and ended her military career as a lieutenant colonel.
The job facing the unit was formidable: Millions of pieces of mail had piled up in Birmingham in unheated, poorly lighted warehouses where rats had been attracted by undelivered packages containing food.
Ms. Veasey had been in England for four months when Germany’s surrender came — V-E Day, May 8, 1945. She was on leave in London at the time and celebrated under one of that city’s landmarks.
“Even now I can see the joy and the kinds of exuberance that one had under Big Ben,” she recalled in a video interview last year.
The battalion was then sent to France, where it did similar work for nine more months. After returning from Europe and leaving the military with the rank of staff sergeant, Ms. Veasey attended St. Augustine’s on the G.I. Bill, and, in 1949, married Warren Veasey.
She graduated from St. Augustine’s in 1953, then taught school for four years in Virginia before returning to the college as administrative secretary to its president, James A. Boyer. She took time out to get a master’s degree in business administration at North Carolina Central University, but worked in various administrative positions at St. Augustine’s for three decades, retiring in 1988.
She also became, in 1965, the first woman to serve as president of the Raleigh chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., holding that post until 1968. A high point of that period was when she hosted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at her sister’s home in Raleigh in 1966.
“I found him to be a most remarkable young man,” she said last year. “Always with dignity, and was always interested in what you were doing.”
She was often written about and commemorated over the years. Her portrait and story were part of an exhibition called “Our Wars” in 2014 at the City of Raleigh Museum. In September 2016 she met President Barack Obama. Last year she was on the annual Heritage Calendar celebrating black North Carolinians.
Ms. Veasey’s husband died in 1961. Her survivors include a son, Warren; a daughter, Juanita Veasey Manley; a brother, McKeever; and two grandchildren.
Natalie Bullock-Brown, an assistant professor of media and communication at St. Augustine’s and the host of a tribute video the college made about Ms. Veasey last year, said that Ms. Veasey stands as an example of someone who wanted to serve and never looked for or solicited the accolades that later came her way. That she and the other women of the 6888th had to create a place for themselves in the military despite many obstacles only makes their service more impressive, she said.
“It didn’t matter that the country didn’t want what they had to offer,” Ms. Bullock-Brown said, “they offered it anyway.”
On the occasion of Ms. Veasey’s 100th birthday, a niece, Elsie Thompson, was interviewed by The Spectrum, a local news outlet, as Ms. Veasey, wearing a cap with her military designations, sat nearby.
“Her hat is her conversation piece,” Ms. Thompson said. “It says ‘World War II,’ and everybody comes up to her and says, ‘Oh, where did your husband serve?’ She says, ‘Oh, no; I’m the vet.’ ”
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