The True Story
of the Triple
Nickles, America’s First Black
By Tanya Lee Stone
Candlewick. $24.99. Age 10 and up.
Sometimes history is what didn’t happen — and why. Prior to her new book about African American paratroopers who didn’t get the chance to fight overseas during World War II, Tanya Lee Stone wrote about the “Mercury 13” female pilots whose training to become astronauts was cut short in the 1960s. Like “Almost Astronauts,” “Courage Has No Color” movingly demonstrates that opportunity is the first prerequisite for great achievement. Stone opens her new book with what it felt like to be a paratrooper — the thrill and the fright of jumping out of an airplane, ready for battle. She proceeds to describe the many challenges that a group of black soldiers had to overcome to get to that point, including being relegated to service duties and segregated facilities. Through anecdotes and old photographs, readers get to know the men of the Triple Nickles as they go on to train for combat against the Axis powers but then find themselves fighting forest fires instead. Stone delves into Japan’s little-known campaign to send thousands of bomb-laden balloons across the Pacific, and she shows how the Triple Nickles paratroopers were dispatched to Oregon to assist as smokejumpers. Facing racial intolerance and raging fires, pushing for integration and opportunity, the Triple Nickles make clear that courage has no color but many facets.