The state of Oregon is dedicating its newest historical marker this afternoon (Friday) at 4:30 p.m. It honors the U.S. Army’s 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, more famously known as the Triple Nickels or Triple Nickles (the British spelling).
The battalion was stationed at the airfield in Pendleton during World War II. It was given a secret mission, named Operation Firefly, to protect the homeland, and it did just that. The African-American group of soldiers fought 28 fires and parachuted into 15 of those. During the winter of 1944-45, Japan launched several thousand 30-foot diameters, hydrogen-filled balloons, each carrying five incendiary bombs and one larger explosive device. The explosives were set to detonate when the balloons touched the trees in the Pacific Northwest, igniting forest fires.