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Heroines that Sorted Mail and Blazed a Trail; The Interceptor 007. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired February 13, 2023 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hey, everyone. It`s your boy Coy. I hope you had an awesome Super Bowl Sunday filled with football friends, family and food.

Man, I love my wings. This is CNN 10. And we have a great show for you today, so let`s get started.

February is black history month. It was chosen because it`s the second week of the month and coincides with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and

Abraham Lincoln.

Today, we`re going to highlight a group of African-American female war heroes, specifically an all Black Women`s Army Corps, that sorted millions

of pieces of mail in unheated warehouses during World War II. Last year in 2022, they were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, decades after the fact.

They were called the 6,888th Central Postal Directory Battalion nicknamed the 6888.

The unit was made up of about black women who were tasked with overcoming a massive backlog of mail. The unit traveled to Great Britain in 1945,

surviving encounters with Nazi U-boats in a German rocket explosion before spending months sorting through mail and packages. They adopted a motto and

it said, no mail, low morale. So they cleared the six-month backlog of mail in just three months.

Now by the end of the war, the unit processed about million pieces of mail. CNN spoke to three of the living service women and we`re blessed to hear

their stories next.


COL. EDNA CUMMINGS, U.S. ARMY (RET): People may not realize, but during World War II, there are more than 6,000 African-American women in the Army.

855th formed the 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only African- American women`s army corps unit to serve in Europe during World War II. The 6888 was formed to clear the multi-year backlog of mail for the 7

million Americans in the European theater of operations.

FANNIE GRIFFIN MCCLENDON, FORMER 1LT., WOMEN`S ARMY CORPS AND MAJ. U.S. AIR FORCE (RET): Everybody expected mail from home and that was our complete

job was to make sure that we get the mail out to the different units.

LENA KING, FORMER CPL., WOMEN`S ARMY CORPS: They didn`t have computers. They didn`t have even television in those days. So mail was a very

important thing.

CUMMINGS: As units of white women were being deployed overseas, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune rallied to have black women

included in the war effort overseas. The women needed meaningful tasks a meaningful assignment to prove that black women could support the armed

forces, just as the white women did. The women first assignment was in Birmingham, England.

They arrived in February of 1945, working three shifts a day. They processed approximately 65,000 pieces of mail per shift for 90 days before

they moved on to Ruan and Paris, France.

KING: It was hard blackout conditions. We had poor lighting, poor heating. We couldn`t let the sunlight in because they were still biting and bombing

in that area.

People of Birmingham, England, treated us as heroes it was very different from some of the behavior of -- by terrorism and I should say.

MCCLENDON: People segregated to the point where when we wanted to go to the base exchange, would give a risk to one person and they would go in and buy

we were not allowed to go in. They even post exchange. We had our own quarters. We had our own unit.

KING: I`m sure that you have seen how service people were heralded. Johnny comes marching home parade. Our dismissal was quiet and unpronounced. It

was at least we simply came home.

INDIANA HUNT-MARTIN, FORMER PFC., WOMEN`S ARMY CORPS: We were just soldiers coming home. We`d want to done a good job and come on like the rest of the

soldiers. There was nobody mentioned that. Nobody even said nothing about - - for about 70 years later. That`s when we started understanding what a good job we did, but otherwise, nobody mentioned about them black or white

WACs do nothing.

CUMMINGS: I think there`s an opportunity now to correct the wrong. The highest award the 6888 can receive and should receive is the Congressional

Gold Medal. They deserve their place in history to secure their legacy, along with the other recipients of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen, the

Montford Marines, the Women Air Service Pilots and many others whose service has been recognized as making a significant contribution to our


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the yeas are 422, the nays are zero.

SUBTITLE: In 2022, Congress voted unanimously to award the women of the 6888th Battalion with congressional gold medals. Just 6 of the women who

served with the 6888th are believed to be alive.

KING: We want to leave a legacy that we have done something that is remarkable.


WIRE: Ten-second trivia, what is the state nickname of California?

The Natural State, The Evergreen State, The Golden State or The Palmetto State?

The 31st state in the Union is nicknamed The Golden State.

Up next, a study released last week shows the world is producing a record amount of single-use plastic waste, the material which is convenient

durable and cost effective can present environmental challenges when not managed properly. In July, California became the first U.S. state to

announce targets to reduce the amount of single-use plastic. Trash in all its forms is an ever-growing challenge for major cities.

We`ll hear now from Richard Quest, CNN anchor and correspondent, he`s taking us to Los Angeles where the city is using a barge to capture

floating trash in waterways before it reaches the ocean.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beautiful beaches of Los Angeles are known around the world from their cameos on the silver screen.

In real life, Hollywood`s home base is far from picture perfect.

The city faces a major villain -- trash, garbage, rubbish and the problem is, it`s getting worse.

BOYAN SLAT, FOUNDER AND CEO, THE OCEAN CLEANUP: Even though the waste management is pretty good in the United States, not a lot of waste is, is

ending up in the environment. If you have 10 million people living here, even just a small fraction of waste not being managed is -- adds up to

quite a significant amount of trash coming down this river.

QUEST: Now the city is turning to a new hero to defend its rivers. The Interceptor 007, it`s all part of an organization called The Ocean Cleanup.

This machine traps the garbage that originates in places like Beverly Hills and Hollywood.

STEVEN FRASHER, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS: The Interceptor is an opportunity to have a last line of defense on

this urban waterway. We try all kinds of measures from public education to trash booms further up the creek, but nothing can be quite as effective as

right here next to the ocean.

And these beaches on Santa Monica Bay are some of the most famous beaches in America. So we really want to keep these clean for public health for

tourism for wildlife. We have volunteers that go to extraordinary efforts to do their part in cleaning up.

QUEST: The group already has interceptors in places like Malaysia and Vietnam, each one takes half a million dollars to build and deploy.

SLAT: What we do see is that there`s the cost of not intercepting plastic in a river is many, many times higher than if you were to intercept it,

because it`s damaging ecosystems, it`s damaging tourism, it`s damaging fisheries. So it`s just very expensive to let this trash go into the ocean.

So we are confident that ultimately, governments will step up and will want to adopt these Interceptors.

QUEST: An army of interceptors is the group`s long-term aim. They`re hoping to deploy in a thousand rivers around the world. Not like the robot armies

of the big screen, this one is fighting for a cleaner future.


WIRE: And today`s story getting a 10 out of 10, this event deserves a round of a-paws, I love it, for real. Check out the annual golden`s in golden

event. It`s a festival celebrating golden retrievers that takes place in Golden, Colorado. This year, over 1,000 Golden retrievers and their owners

filled the streets the celebration now in its third year was held on the Saturday closest to National Golden Retrievers Day which is February 3rd.

Now on to our favorite part of the day, shout out time. We`re getting a special shout out to Central Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska. We see you,

and we hope you and everyone watching around the world have a wonderful one. I`m Coy Wire and we are CNN 10.