Today I want to talk about the “Triple Nickles”, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
This all-Black unit of the US Army was stationed in Pendleton, Oregon in 1945. ‘Their mission was to recover and dispose of Japanese balloon bombs and to suppress the forest fires the bombs started. The “Fire-Fly Project,” as it was called, was experimental and a tightly guarded secret.’
During their time in Oregon they experienced a great deal of racism. Only two Pendleton bars and one Chinese restaurant would serve them.
During the 1945 season they fought 36 fires in the PNW with over 1200 jumps. They did intelligence work and located fire bombs. They attended the Pendleton Round Up.
At the end of 1945 they returned to Fort Bragg where they became an integral part of the 82nd airborne division.
In 2008 former members of this unit were honored in a ceremony by the City of Pendleton.