In this last week of #BlackHistoryMonth a short thread on The Triple Nickels and their secret World War II Mission called "Operation Firefly".
The 555th Parachute Infantry Company (Triple Nickels) was activated as a result of a recommendation made by the Committee on Negro Troop Policies.

The 555th was to be an all Black unit, comprised of both officer & enlisted men.

On 19 December 1943, the company was activated.
After training, they were assigned a secret mission known only as Operation Firefly.

As they boarded flights headed for the west coast, they thought they may be headed to Japan.

But they werent headed to the Pacific. Nor did they fight in Europe.

They went, instead, to Oregon.
Their war would be fought not with guns or bombs, but with parachutes, saws, shovels and water.
At the time, the Japanese were employing a balloon bomb against the United States.

More than 9,000 Fu-Go balloon bombs targeted fire-prone California, Oregon, Idaho & Montana.

Their goal was to burn the whole West Coast, causing panic & diverting attention away from the war.
To conceal these attacks from the public, their mission was kept secret.

From Pendleton Field, they were briefed on Operation Firefly.

They would train with the Forest Service & become the military’s first smokejumpers; deactivating balloon bombs & putting out wildfires.
Over the course of their tasking, the 555th participated in 40 fire missions with more than 1,200 individual jumps.
Following this mission, the Unit was transferred back east.

Over the next few years, in part because of their success in Operation Firefly, black paratroopers were transferred to units throughout the 82d Airborne Division, making it the first integrated division in the US Army.
These soldiers, comprising the nation’s first all-black parachute infantry and the first military smokejumpers in U.S. history, are literal trailblazers.

Their courage & dedication saved lives and paved the way for greater military integration.

Their story is worth sharing.
The Triple Nickels.

For the Airborne. For us all.

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