The following information about the black paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was taken from the article "The Courageous Patriotism of Triple Nickel" by Michael Tremoglie, which appeared in on May 26, 2003

Black Paratroopers of WWII

From the article: "The 555th or 'Triple Nickel' was a unit of black paratroopers formed during World War II. They were part of America’s segregated military. [...] The Triple Nickel was activated at Camp Mackall, North Carolina on November 25th, 1944.  The enlisted men and officers of the 555th were all black. They were highly educated men. Some were professional athletes, and some had military experience. These were courageous and patriotic men volunteering to serve in a dangerous unit.

"Despite their patriotism and courage the members of the 555th still had to use separate drinking fountains, they still were relegated to segregated railroad cars, and they were still not permitted to dine in restaurants where German POW’s could dine. [...]

"In May 1945, the 555th arrived in Pendleton, Oregon to begin training for Operation Firefly. They were to be used as smokejumpers in forests around Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The U.S. Forest Service had been using smokejumpers since 1939 and in the process of refining the techniques by smokejumpers.

"There were two significant differences between smokejumpers and paratroopers. Paratroopers landed in open terrain, while smokejumpers landed in trees. Paratroopers usually were not near infernos with currents that would interfere with parachuting. Smokejumpers were always near infernos.

"The Triple Nickels made twelve hundred individual jumps into forest fires. They had one casualty during this assignment. The knowledge gained from their experience was used to compile a manual for smokejumpers.

After completing Operation Firefly, the Triple Nickel was disbanded. Personnel of the 555th were assigned to integrated units after the military ceased its policy of segregation."

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