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World War II veteran laid to rest with full military honors

SALISBURY — Traffic stopped in downtown Salisbury late Friday morning as a long procession of Patriot Guard motorcycles escorted a white hearse from Powles Staton Funeral to Salisbury National Cemetery.

Several people stood along the procession route to pay respects to Army Master Sgt. Bertha Harrison Dupre, who passed away at Concord Transitional Healthcare on Dec. 19.

Bertha Harrison Dupre

Dupre had been a ward of the state because she had no remaining family. There was no one to claim her body or pay for a funeral.

On Friday, a large turnout was hand as Dupre was laid to rest with full military honors. Dupre, who was 97, was cremated, and her ashes were placed in the cemetery’s columbarium.

After Dupre’s death, social worker Rhonda Fernandez and Cabarrus Veterans Service Officer Lori Hinson started working on her behalf. They reached out to Carolina Cremation in Salisbury for assistance, and eventually sister company Powles Staton Funeral Home in Rockwell also became involved.

Since the Post first wrote about Dupre’s death and the efforts to make sure the veteran did not die forgotten, her story has received attention from The Charlotte Observer, the Associated Press and local television stations.

ConnectingVets.com also wrote about Dupre and her service during World War II with the all-black, all-woman 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, which was made up of 824 enlisted personnel and 31 officers originally with the Women’s Army Corps, Army Service Forces and Army Air Forces.

The website said the battalion divided its work into shifts that ran continuously and processed an average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift. During the war, it was credited with clearing a six-month backlog of letters in three months.

The women’s contributions were recognized at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, last November when a monument was erected in the battalion’s honor. It was the U.S. Army’s only all-female, all-black unit during World War II.

Dupre’s name is on that monument with those of other women who served in the special battalion.

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