How Black Smokejumpers Helped Save The American West:

  1. Smokejumper Jesse Mayes preparing to jump from a C-47 (U.S. Army Air Force)
  2. First Sgt. Walter Morris, 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Fort Benning, Ga., prepares for his first jump. Morris is considered the U.S. Army’s first African American paratrooper. (U.S. Army photo).
  3. The first test platoon for the 555th Parachute Infantry Company consisted of 17 fully qualified black paratroopers, pictured on graduation day in February 1944. One Soldier, Cpl. Carstell O. Stewart, missed the picture due to emergency leave. (U.S. Army photo).
  4. Army paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion stand at ease during inspection. The men were issued “let-down” ropes and football helmets with face masks to assist during forest landings while detailed to the U.S. Forest Service, where they served as “smoke jumpers” at the end of World War II. (U.S. Army photo).
  5. Black soldiers ride in a C-47 transport plane preparing to make a qualifying jump in March 1944 (The National Archives).
  6. A recent portrait of former 1st Lt. Walter Morris, considered to be the U.S. Army’s first African American paratrooper. (Photo courtesy of the USDA Forest Service).
  7. The Army’s first African American paratroopers, and some of the nation’s earliest “smoke jumpers,” Walter Morris and Jospeh Murchison during a service recognition ceremony at the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., March 26, 2010. Pictured from left to right: Sgt. Clarence H. Beavers, Triple Nickle Association President Joe Murchison, Smokey Bear, 2nd Lt. Walter Morris and Lt. Col. Roger S. Walden. (Photo by Dominic Cumberland, USDA Forest Service).

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