Bellingham Public Library hosts “Triple Nickles,” the story of the first all-black paratrooper unit, 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 2, 2019, at the Central Library, as part of Whatcom READS 2019. (Facebook event for “Triple Nickles” presentation.)
Whatcom READS 2019 features the book “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America” by Timothy Egan. The series includes events following the book’s theme, culminating in presentations by Timothy Egan scheduled for March 7 & 8.
The first all-black paratrooper unit’s mission and service involving Washington State made quiet history. In this insightful presentation, Robert L. “Bob” Bartlett tells the tale of the “555,” paratroopers who, despite being prevented from serving in Europe or realizing some of the same privileges and rights granted white soldiers at home, served with distinction when cross-trained to become “Smokejumpers.”
Trained by U.S. Forest Service Rangers, members of the 555 jumped on some 36 forest fires as first responders, including the 1945 Mount Baker fire. In the process of helping save our forest, they gained military fame as the first all-black “Airborne Infantry Firefighters.”
This free-of-charge event is one of many being held in February and March as part of 2019 Whatcom READS. For more information about Whatcom READS events and Bellingham Public Library’s role in this partnership, visit www.whatcomreads.org.