RUSKIN, Fla. — During WWII, the millions of Americans in Europe were always on the move, and tracking them down for mail seemed nearly impossible, but not too impossible for Gladys Blount.
"I didn’t think much of it, I thought it was just part of the routine," said Blount.
In February of 1945, Blount and nearly 850 other members of the all-black all-female 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion Unit were shipped to England to help.
"It was exciting, there were boys," said Blount.
Now at 100 years old, Blount remembers sorting through months, if not years, worth of backlogged mail for U.S. troops.
"We put the new address on the envelope and forwarded them on," said Blount.
Under dire conditions, the women worked around the clock averaging 65,000 pieces of mail per shift and finishing the task in half the time they were given. Their motivation was knowing that getting mail from loved ones was critical to keep the fighting soldiers encouraged.
"It was a big moral builder," said Blount.
Seventy-seven years later, the unsung WWII hero is finally getting her own moral builder.
Not only were members of the "Six-Triple-Eight" battalion awarded the congressional gold medal this year, but Blount was honored by Hillsborough County leaders and given the key to the city of her hometown of East Orange, New Jersey.
Blount's daughter, Eva Davis, said she’s overwhelmed by the gratitude shown to her mother after all this time.
"I just appreciate the fact that people appreciate what she did, I think others appreciate it more than she does," said Davis.
Even while facing discrimination, sexism, and horrendous conditions, Blount still doesn’t think her part was that big of a deal. But she said she is honored to have served her country.
"I’m very proud," said Blount.