Black Test Platoon Marker, Fayetteville
The marker commemorates the first African Americans allowed to enter training in a US Army Airborne unit during World War Two. The granite marker standing several feet tall has a flat top and beveled front. The top incision has the years of service for the unit and a Master Parachutist Badge. The badge consists of a parachute with wings on each side. Atop the parachute is a star encircled by a wreath. The beveled front lists the members of the first test platoon.
Flat top: THE ALL – BLACK / 555th PARACHUTE INFANTRY BATTALION / 1944-1947
Beveled front: IN HONOR OF THE BLACK TEST PLATOON / WHOSE SOLDIERS RECEIVED SILVER PARACHUTIST WINGS / FEBRUARY – MARCH 1944 / [Left column] 2ND LT CLIFFORD ALLEN / 2ND LT EDWARD BAKER / S/SGT CALVIN R BEAL / SGT CLARENCE H BEAVERS / SGT NED D BESS / 2ND LT BRADLEY BIGGS / S/SGT HUBERT BRIDGES / 2ND LT WARREN C CONELIUS /
[Center column] S/SGT LONNIE DUKE / CPL MCKINLEY GODFRY JR / S/SGT ROBER F GREEN / SGT JAMES E KORNEGAY / T/4 ALVIN L MOON / 1ST SGT WALTER MORRIS / SGT LEO D REED /
[Right column] SGT SAMUEL W ROBINSON / 1ST LT JASPER E ROSS / CPL CARSTELL O STEWART / SGT JACK D TILLIS / SGT ROGER S WALDEN / SGT DANIEL C WEIL / SGT ELIJAH WESBY / 2ND LT EDWIN H WILLIS
Airborne and Special Operation Museum
February 8, 2003
35.055950 , -78.885480 View in Geobrowse
"Airborne and Special Operations Museum" website, http://www.asomf.org, (accessed November 12, 2015) Link
Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation, asomf.org, (accessed January 10, 2017) Link
Greenwood, Al. “Tribute Honors Black Paratroopers,” Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, NC), February 9, 2003
Parker, Roy Jr. “Black Platoon Overcame Resistance,” Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, NC), February 6, 2003
“555th Parachute Infantry,” TripleNickle.com, (accessed November 12, 2015) Link
Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation
Four original members of the Triple Nickles attended the ceremony that featured the 82nd Airborne Division Band and five parachute teams, including members of the 555th, jumping from planes and landing on the museum grounds. Joe Murchison, president of the 555th Parachute Infantry Association, introduced the four original members of the 555th who were able to travel to Fayetteville: Robinson, Clarence Beavers, Walter Morris and Carstell Stewart. Fayetteville Mayor Marshall Pitts commented that the men of the test platoon were “a perfect example that heroes come in all colors, shapes and sizes. They aren’t just African-American heroes. They’re American heroes.”
During World War Two the US Army fiercely resisted allowing blacks to serve in elite units such as the airborne divisions. Eventually an all-black Service Unit at Ft. Benning, Georgia where airborne troops were trained was allowed to go through the same training regimen as the white parachute volunteers. When authorization came to form an all-black paratroop unit several of these men became the first to join along with volunteers from the 92nd Infantry Division. These men formed the 555th Infantry Company which soon became the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, known to history as the Triple Nickles. The unit did not see combat during the war and was absorbed into the 82nd Airborne Division in 1947.
The marker stands in front of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum located at 100 Bragg Boulevard, at the intersection with Hay Street in Fayetteville, NC. This marker is one of over 65 representing US Army airborne and special operation units outlining the semicircle drive in front of the museum. In the center of the drive stands a statue of Iron Mike. Nearby is a memorial to Special Operations Force Dog and a statue of General Hugh Shelton. Across a grassy area called the Field of Honor is the NC Veterans Park. Freedom Memorial Park is across Bragg Boulevard.
Memorial Day, Airborne Day and Veterans Day services are held annually on the Airborne and Special Operations Museum grounds.