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Thu, 12.30.1943

The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion is Activated

555 Battalion Patch

*The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was officially activated on this date in 1943.  

Activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Battalion, nicknamed The Triple Nickels, was an all-Black airborne unit of the United States Army during World War II.   

The unit was activated due to a recommendation made in December 1942 by the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies, chaired by the Assistant Secretary of War, John J. McCloy. In approving the committee's recommendation for a Black parachute battalion, Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall decided to start with a company. On February 23, 1943, the 555th Parachute Infantry Company was constituted.  

On December 19, 1943, Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, authorized the company's activation as an all-Black unit with Black officers and Black enlisted men. All unit members were to be volunteers, with an enlisted cadre selected from personnel of the 92d Infantry Division at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  The company was officially activated on 30 December 1943 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

After several months of training, the unit moved to Camp Mackall, North Carolina. It was reorganized and re-designated on November 25, 1944, as Company A of the newly activated 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion.  After its inactivation, many former 555th PIB members later fought in the Korean War in other units.  First Lieutenant Harry Sutton, one of the battalion's former officers, died leading a rearguard action during the Hungnam evacuation and was decorated posthumously with the Silver Star.

In 1950, many former 555th PIB members volunteered to form the all-Black 2d Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne). While the 2d Ranger Infantry Company was attached to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, it made the combat jump at Munsan-Ni in March 1951, the first combat jump ever made by a US Army Ranger unit. This combat jump was the first and last made by an all-Black unit at the time, as the Army was racially segregated.  

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