They became America’s first black paratroopers. Why was their story never told? Sibert Medalist Tanya Lee Stone reveals the history of the Triple Nickles during World War II. World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, the injustice of discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Enlisted black men are segregated from white soldiers and regularly relegated to service duties. At Fort Benning, Georgia, First Sergeant Walter Morris’s men serve as guards at The Parachute School, while the white soldiers prepare to be paratroopers. Morris knows that for his men to be treated like soldiers, they have to train and act like them, but would the military elite and politicians recognize the potential of these men as well as their passion for serving their country? Tanya Lee Stone examines the role of African Americans in the military through the history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in a little-known attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of Morris, "proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability."
Stone (Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream) opens with an enticing question, "What is it like to jump out of an airplane?" The answer, which lets readers imagine doing just that as a paratrooper, will immediately draw them into this thorough story of the U.S. military's first black paratroopers. More than just an account of their endeavors during WWII, the narrative takes on a broader perspective as it contextualizes the story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Set against the entrenched racism of the 1940s, the nine chapters include asides about media stereotypes regarding African-Americans and how photographs of black soldiers were often left out of the military record. Myriad quotations from personal interviews and more than 100 b&w photos reveal the heroism and perseverance of these groundbreaking men. While they didn't see combat (they were instead sent out West to become smoke jumpers), Stone's final chapters reveal how the Triple Nickles' service helped integrate both the military and society at large. A captivating look at a small but significant piece of military and civil rights history. Ages 10 up.
Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of American History. But after reading this book, it opened if my eyes of how different it was for black people. And how the blacks kept fighting because they knew that their color did not define them. This was an amazing book to read! I got to learn how different people contributed to stop discrimination and segregation! I highly suggested this book to other readers.
If your reading this. It's too late. - Mikey 2014