Charity Edna Adams Earley was a soldier and officer from Columbia, South Carolina. She is best remembered for her pioneer services while serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Earley was born on March 3, 1918. She grew up in a family in which education was a strong priority. Growing up, there were always books of all kinds in the home. Her father was a scholar who was fluent in Hebrew and Greek. Earley went on to graduate valedictorian of her class at Booker T. Washington High School. After graduation, she attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, where she majored in math and physics.
In 1942, Earley joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which later became the Women’s Army Corps. In 1944, the Army gave her an overseas assignment, the first contingent of Black WACs for this degree of duty. With another officer, she traveled to Scotland to meet her troops, which became part of the postal directory service.
Maintaining morale was an important part of her job, and she managed to encourage her fellow officers in a varity of ways. For black women in Europe in 1945, hair salons were unavailable. With the help of other officers, Earley was able to requisition necessary supplies for the women and a place for them to have their hair washed and styled.
Later that year, she took command of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The group delivered mail to approximately seven million American troops stationed in Europe. Wartime security required that letters sent home needed to be read and censored, a task usually assigned to the company officers.
After the war began to died down, various problems arose, as men resented the presence of women in the military, especially black women. It was not long after the end of the war that Earley decided it was time for her to leave the service altogether.
Earley continued to devote her life to community service. She served the United Way, the Black Leadership Development Program, the Board of Directors of Dayton Power and Light, the Dayton Metro Housing Authority, Dayton Opera Company, the board of governors of the American Red Cross, and many other organizations.
In 1993, she was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. In 1995, Earley introduced President Clinton at a Salute to African-Americans in World War II, in Washington, D.C. Charity Adams Earley died in 2002.