Courage Has No Color

Courage Has No Color

The True Story of the Triple Nickles : America's First Black Paratroopers

Book - 2013
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 A 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist

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."

From Courage Has No Color
What did it take to be a paratrooper in World War II? Specialized training, extreme physical fitness, courage, and -- until the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (the Triple Nickles) was formed -- white skin.
It is 1943. Americans are overseas fighting World War II to help keep the world safe from Adolf Hitler's tyranny, safe from injustice, safe from discrimination. Yet right here at home, people with white skin have rights that people with black skin do not.
What is courage? What is strength? Perhaps it is being ready to fight for your nation even when your nation isn't ready to fight for you.
Publisher: Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780763651176
Branch Call Number: Ju 940.541 STO


From Library Staff

FP: 'Invasion' by Walter Dean Myers

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Think about what it would be like to sit in the open door of a helicopter, your feet dangling into thin air, the sound of the rotors loud in your ears and the wind whipping your face. Far below, trees look like broccoli and roads are nothing but thin lines. Think of pushing off into the air, hoping your parachute was packed correctly and will open in time. Now think that even in full military uniform you’ll have to sit in the back of the bus, you won’t be able to sit with white soldiers at mealtime, and you won’t be able to watch movies at the theater on base. This is the story of the first black paratroopers in the United States and how they fought for freedom and equality.

BCD2013 Jun 12, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
An expertly researched and deftly written account of those soldiers that fought for their country, in spite of segregation on the homefront and amongst their ranks.


I don’t know about you, but when I was in school my history classes sort of raced over WWII when we learned about it. You had your Allied Forces, Hitler, Pearl Harbor, atom bomb, and that was that. So in the midst of all this I can be nothing but pleased with Tanya Lee Stone’s latest. Having already established herself as capable of giving voice to missed historical opportunities, Stone turns her attention to a core group of brave professionals that risked everything and managed to do a great deal of good in spite of the obstacles they encountered along the way.


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The hisCourage1 Review of the Day: Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stonetory of African-Americans serving in the military has always had its pitfalls and problems. Yet one of the stories too little known concerns The Triple Nickles and their work during the war years. In 1943 Walter Morris, a black serviceman in charge of an African-American unit, could see that his troop’s morale was dangerously low. In light of this he got permission to train his men the same way the white paratroopers at Fort Benning, GA were being trained. In time, their work paid off and President Roosevelt’s order to create an all-black paratrooper unit fell on them. All would have been right as rain but instead of being sent into battle they were instead told to fight fires on the west coast. Little did they suspect that this seeming busywork was actually fighting an enemy closer at hand than anyone had ever suspected. Peppered with art from artist and serviceman Ashley Bryan, Stone’s book takes its cues from original primary sources, interviews with the subjects themselves, and produces one of the finest looks into these heroes too little lauded in their day.


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“Tiny bits and pieces of this story have been scattered in obscure places for decades. There have been articles written about the Triple Nickles, as well as one slim book by Bradley Biggs, which is primarily an autobiographical perspective, but putting all the events, perspectives, and the complete story together in historical context has never been done.”


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