SAMUEL COUNCIL CHAPTER of the 555th Parachute Infantry Association

HISTORY of The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion

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The History.....

            In the winter of 1943-1944 twenty young African-American enlisted men were ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia to be trained as parachutists.  These young men were pioneers because, never before in the segregated military system then prevalent, were ‘Coloreds' considered intelligent enough or brave enough to serve in combat units of any type and certainly not capable of being paratroopers.

In early 1944 sixteen of these young men completed requisite training, overcoming numerous obstacles, and were awarded the silver wings of qualified parachutist.  Shortly thereafter an additional trooper, having been delayed by a family emergency, was also awarded the much coveted parachutist badge.  These men were led by former First Sergeant Walter Morris, and went on to form the cadre for the 555th Parachute Infantry Company at Camp Mackall, North Carolina

Several weeks after the "Test Platoon" graduated; six black officers also completed training and were awarded parachutists badges.  Prominent among the six was Second Lieutenant Bradley Biggs

Now that the gates were open, a veritable flood of young black men volunteered for parachute training, causing the rapid evolvement of the seventeen enlisted men and six officers into the 555th Parachute Infantry Company and the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, which was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

On a cold day in December, 1947, teary eyed members of the "Triple Nickles" Battalion stood in mass formation as this proud, one of a kind battalion was deactivated and all assigned soldiers transferred in grade and rank to the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division, thus becoming the first black unit in history to become a part of an American combat division.  This historic milestone was presided over by then Major General James M. "Slim Jim" Gavin, a much admired and respected World War II Commander.  General Gavin, because of his effort in bringing "Triple Nickles" into the mainstream, will always be revered by members of the 555th Parachute Infantry Association.

The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion subsequently provided personnel for formation of the 503rd Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion and the 80th Airborne Ant-Aircraft Battalion.  The three Battalions then provided personnel for the 2nd Airborne Ranger Company which became the first black unit to make a combat jump in Korea while attached to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team.

Without doubt, the courage and competency of black members of the units herein mentioned paved the way for the integrated military and civilian societies that all Americans enjoy today.  The 555th Parachute Infantry Association was formed as a vehicle designed to pay homage to brave troopers who have preceded us and to maintain their memory by doing good work for the society in which we live. 

 "Triple Nickles" Membership is open to all without regard to race, gender, or ethnicity.                      

 This Historical Synopsis was written by LTC (Ret.) Bradley Biggs, 1SG (Ret.) Walter Morris, and CW4 (Ret.) Fred Farmer.

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Test Platoon - First 16  qualified black paratroopers (1944)  Enlisted men of the Test Platoon. Front Row from L-R: First Sgt. Walter Morris, first black enlisted man accepted for airborne duty • Sgt. Jack D. Tillis • Sgt. Leo D. Reed  • Sgt Daniel Weil *S. Sgt. Hubert Bridges • Tech. Grade IV Alvin L. Moon • Sgt. Ned D. Bess • Sgt. Roger S. Walden  Back Row from L-R • Cpl. McKinley Godfrey, Jr. • Sgt. Elijah Wesby • Sgt. Samuel W. Robinson • S. Sgt. Calvin R. Beal • S. Sgt Robert F. Greene • S. Sgt. Lonnie M. Duke • Sgt. Clarence H. Beavers and Sgt. James E. Kornegay. Not Shown Carstell O. Stewart, the seventeenth, who was on emergency leave and earned his wings a week later.

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The Officers of the test platoon (1944) Left to Right • First Lt. Jasper E. Ross, Chicago, IL • Second Lt. Clifford Allen, Chicago, IL • Second Lt. Bradley Biggs, Newark, NJ • Second Lt. Edwin H. Wills, Washington, DC • Second Lt. Warren C. Cornelius, Atlantic City, NJ • Second Lt. Edward Baker, Chicago, IL

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A wesome
I inspiring
R emarkable
B old
O
utstanding
R
espectful
N oteworthy
E xemplary

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For a New Member Application Click Here.....

Samuel Council Chapter of the 555th PIA 
P.O. BOX 71555 
Ft Bragg, NC 28307
 "Keeping The Triple Nickles Legacy Alive!"
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