The Triple Nickles and Operation Firefly

This blog was composed by Todd Crumley and Aaron Arthur

This series of color transparencies documents the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the U.S. Army’s first African-American paratrooper unit, and their participation in Operation Firefly. Firefly was initiated in response to the threat of potential wildfires caused by Japanese balloon bombs arriving on the west coast  beginning in 1944. Known as the Triple Nickles, the 555th completed 1200 jumps from July-October 1945 in support of the U.S. Forest Service efforts to contain forest fires in the northwest United States. The smokejumpers parachuted into regions difficult for firefighters to reach and helped contain 36 fires during this time.

The National Archives Still Picture Branch honors these brave men for their service by highlighting these wonderful color photographs from Series 342-C : Color Photographs of U.S. Air Force Activities, Facilities, and Personnel, Domestic and Foreign, ca. 1940 – ca. 1980. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “The Triple Nickles and Operation Firefly

  1. I’m a model figurine builder and I have a 1:24 scale figure on the workbench being converted to a Triple Nickel Airborne Wildland fireman.
    These historic photographs in color are an extremely valuable resource!

    I had the privilege to know some Triple Nickels, and fire-fighting veterans in the Pacific northwest.
    Interesting are the Riddell helmets – from the same manufacturer for football helmets today.

    The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion para was attached to the 82d Airborne Division when it returned to Ft Bragg from occupation duty in Germany, and eventually became the 3d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

    Again, agreat story, and an oustanding array of very historic photographs!

    George F Cholewczynski
    New Orleans

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