Georgia Town Names Day After Black Woman Who Served in Majority Black, All-Female Battalion

by Xara Aziz
Moultrie Observer

A woman who served in a majority Black, all-female battalion has been honored after the town of Moultrie has confirmed that June 16 will be now known as Willie Belle Irvin Partridge Day.

Willie Belle Irvin Partridge would have been 100 this year and the day was made to recognize her birthday as well as the many achievements she has accomplished throughout her career.

In an interview with WALB, the family of Partridge said they are grateful she is finally getting the flowers she deserves.  

“She was a mail carrier. You know, they had to get the mail to the front lines that hadn’t received the mail. And it was backed up. And they got a medal for that,” Eugene Irvin, Willie’s brother told the news outlet.

It was just three days after D-Day when Partridge joined the Women’s Army Corps on July 19, 1944. At the time, she was assigned to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which was made up of mostly Black women. She was also one of the only African-American WAC units to be deployed overseas during World War II.

The unit would begin their tour of duty in Birmingham, England in February 1945 and would later serve in France before returning to the United States in March of 1946.

“Can you imagine being in Europe during World War II and wanting to hear from home? Hear from your mama and your daddy and your brother and your sister,” Moultrie Mayor William McIntosh said. “And these ladies just worked and worked tirelessly to make sure that that mail and those packages got to these men.”

Furthermore, Partridge was the first Black woman from Moultrie to enlist in the U.S. Army.

President Joe Biden recognized Partridge and the other WAC women who served when he awarded them a Congressional Gold Medal. The bill was signed into law awarding them one of the nation’s top honors in March 2022.

“I’m very proud of my mother,” Brenda Partridge Brown, Partridge’s daughter, said. “And I’m getting to learn more about who my mother really was because of the history I’ve been able to gain through books that have been written, things I found on the military website and just people in general.”

Partridge passed away in 1990 at the age of 66. At the time, she was married with six children.

“My mother would be so proud that her hometown has recognized a native daughter of Moultrie, Georgia. And the United States has righted a wrong for their daughter, because she – this was her beloved country that she served,” Brown said. “And she realized that she was not loved back. But that did not stop her from loving her country.”

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