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Black History: A Reflection on Service

A Reflection on Service; Black History Month - Alyce Dixon, 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, WWII.  US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joining the military in 1943, Alyce Dixon was among one of the first African-American women in the Army, serving in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.

A Veteran of the Women’s Army Corps, the late Alyce Dixon was born in 1907, when an American’s average life expectancy was only 47 years.  She was born Alice Ellis in Boston.  At the age of 16, she changed the spelling of her name to Alyce after seeing a picture show starring actress Alyce Mills. She lived life on her own terms from that day forward. 

Ms. Dixon was a graduate of the historical Dunbar High School in Northwest, Washington, D.C. She was honored and recognized by many throughout her years as a resident of the Washington DC VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center.  During Women’s History Month, March 2009, Ms. Dixon was recognized by first lady Michelle Obama. Later, she was personally invited to the White House in 2014 to personally meet President Barack Obama.

Joining the military in 1943, Ms. Dixon was among one of the first African-American women in the Army.  As a member of the Women's Army Corps, she was stationed in England and France where she played an important role in the postal service as part of the 6888th Battalion.

After leaving the Army, she served the government for many years at the Census Bureau and the Pentagon where she served as a purchasing agent, buying everything from pencils to airplanes. She retired from government service in 1973.

At the DC VA Medical Center, she was affectionately called the “Queen Bee” and was known for impeccable dress. She never left her room without fixing her makeup and hair.  She always wore stylish clothes and jewelry and sported well-manicured nails. She loved to sit in the medical center Atrium and watch the people. Recalling her statement from a previous interview, “I tell everyone to dress nice for yourself and you’ll feel better, even if you don’t feel good,” she said.  “Wear your jewelry, fix your hair. No one has to tell you that you look it for yourself.”

The DC VA Medical Center’s staff and leadership team hosted many birthday celebrations to honor their oldest female Veteran, who was high-spirited, fun-loving and somewhat of a local celebrity. During Black History Month, the medical center team continues to honor the service and memory of Ms. Alyce Dixon.

Ms. Dixon solidified her place in history as a member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-Black, all-female unit sent overseas during World War II.  Read her story featured as part of the National Museum of the United States Army Biographies here:

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