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A Leap of Faith: The Untold Story of the Triple Nickles

A film by Les Heintz and Fred Terling

In the 1940’s, America was divided into two halves. One half was white. The other half was black. There were the haves and the have nots. This was true in all parts of society including the military. At the beginning of the decade, black troops were relegated to service jobs. They worked in mess halls, loaded trucks, emptied trash and stood guard duty.

There were no African Americans soldiers in combat duty. Segregation prevented negro soldiers from serving beside their white counter-parts on the battle field. That all began to change in the middle of 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 prohibiting discrimination in the defense industry.

But as always, change was slow to take hold.

A Leap of Faith: The Forgotten Story of The Triple Nickles shines light on an important piece of history that is mostly forgotten. It is the story of a group of African American soldiers during World War II, who initially trained themselves for battle and ended up fighting what was the second attack on the homeland since Pearl Harbor from Japanese incendiary balloons in the Northwest. They were the first and only all black parachute infantry regiment in history and this is their forgotten story.

The voices of these men from the 555th PIR will help us to remember:

“We fought segregation and discrimination and intolerance. They tried to burn us out, but it made us stronger. It made us angry. It made us persevere.” – Lt. Col. Bradley Biggs

“Prisoners who killed American soldiers, could buy cigarettes or whatever they wanted but we couldn’t go into the PX. We’re not good enough to sit at a table with prisoners of war?”- 1st Sgt. Walter Morris

“We were glad that segregation was leaving the Army but we were sad we were losing our Triple Nickles’ colors. But I finally felt like I belonged to something.” – Sgt. Major Charles Stevens

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