In Camp Mackall, North Carolina the first all-#black parachute Infantry platoon was formed on November 25,1944. The platoon was called the 555th Battalion, a.k.a. “The Triple Nickles.” The unit was activated as a result of a recommendation made in December 1942 by the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies, chaired by the Assistant Secretary of War, John J. McCloy.
Walter Morris was a Sergeant overseeing a unit of Black soldiers at Fort Benning, where White soldiers trained to be Airborne Parachutists. Segregation and discrimination during this period was going strong; so most of the Black soldiers were treated more like servants as opposed to Army service men. Morris sought to build their self-esteem by replicating the White soldiers’ training regime during their off hours. The all-black parachute Infantry platoon was called the “Triple Nickles” because 17 of the 20 soldiers selected from the Buffalo Soldiers 92nd Infantry in Arizona made it through the test platoon at Fort Benning. A name which derived from the old English spelling and identified with three buffalo nickels joined in a triangle or pyramid.
The platoon served in more airborne units during both war and peacetime than any other parachute group in history. During wintertime in Georgia of 1943 and 1944, soldiers could look up into the sky and see a blanket of white parachutes belonging to the 555th infantry battalion. The platoon was made up of men who were students and professional athletes. The 555th were trained to use biological agents that could destroy the burning woods for wartime purposes. After being transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1945, the 555th became attached to the elite 82nd Airborne Division. Later in 1950, the Parachute Battalion was disbanded. However, many of the members went on to fight in the Korean War.