On Saturday, June 3, 2017, at 11:00 a.m., the Oregon Historical Marker Program will commemorate the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (also known as the Triple Nickles), an elite all-Black paratrooper unit deployed to Oregon near the end of WWII. A new historical marker honoring the Triple Nickles will be unveiled at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum located at the Illinois Valley Valley Airport in Cave Junction.
The Triple Nickles jumped their way into Oregon history in 1945 during a secret mission known as “Operation Firefly.” Their charge was to parachute near forest fires in the Pacific Northwest caused by Japanese Balloon bombs, and disarm and destroy any remaining explosive devices.
The men of the 555th withstood many obstacles in their service to the US, including racism, lack of smoke jumping equipment, and a fatality in their unit during an Oregon jump—Private First Class Marvin L. Brown. The new marker also honors Brown’s sacrifice.
Keynote speakers at the dedication include the Secretary of the Oregon Black Pioneers Gwen Carr, Professor Robert Bartlett of Eastern Washington University, Joe Murchison of the 555th Association, Ed Washington of the Oregon Travel information Council, and Roger Brandt of the Illinois Valley Community Development Organization.
“The work to uncover and commemorate the lives of men who served in Oregon as part of the Triple Nickles is a great accomplishment,” Carr says. “Oregon Black Pioneers is honored to be a part of this dedication.”
Brandt was instrumental in the new marker’s nomination, research, and funding process. “Oregon has never formally thanked the 555th for their role in defending Oregon during WWII, says Brandt.
Brandt notes that “The 555th historical marker installation is taking the first step towards acknowledging their contribution to our state’s history.”
The event is free and the public is invited to attend.The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is located at 30904 Redwood Hwy in Cave Junction.
Podcast – oral history on the Triple Nickles
Listen to a podcast produced by All American Legacy and the 82nd Airborne Communications Office.
*You may view the invitation above in a larger size by clicking on one of the section images above.
The Oregon Historical Marker Program is administered by the Oregon Travel Information Council. For more information on the Triple Nickles and their new marker, telephone 1-800-574-9397 or email Annie von Domitz.