The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was an all-African American airborne unit of the United States Army during World War II. They were stationed at the Army Air Base established at the Chico Airport.
The battalion did not serve overseas during World War II. However, in May 1945 it was sent to combat forest fires ignited by Japanese balloons carrying incendiary bombs. Although this potentially serious threat did not materialize, the 555th fought numerous other forest fires. Unit members courageously participated in dangerous fire-fighting missions throughout the Pacific Northwest during the summer and fall of 1945, earning the nickname Smoke Jumpers in addition to Triple Nickels. The only fatality in the unit died while jumping on August 6, 1945.
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