555th Parachute Infantry Battalion Commemoration banner

555th Parachute Infantry Historic Marker

Cave Junction Oregon

June 3, 2017 (Saturday)

42.102580, -123.683650
Smokejumper Museum, Illinois Valley Airport – four and a half miles south of Cave Junction, Oregon.

A free family event commemorating the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, a segregated military unit of African-Americans assigned to a secret operation in Oregon during the 1945-1946 Japanese balloon bomb attack on the United States. The 555th represents a World War Two home-front defense story that took place during a hostile attack on American soil by a foreign enemy.

The Japanese released about 9,000 balloons, each 30 feet in diameter with 4-5 incendiary bombs. These were carried from Japan to the United States in high altitude winds (jet streams) where the balloons randomly released bombs to start forest fires. The 555th soldiers were trained by the Forest Service to work as Smokejumpers and are the only military unit in American history to work as aerial firefighters.

One of the 555th soldiers died on a fire jump near Roseburg and became the first smokejumper death in American history.

555th Parachute Infantry Historic Marker Nomination (1.7mb pdf)

Malvin Brown Historic Marker Nomination (5.9mb pdf)


Pilots Fly-in information
Use caution for pedestrians in the ramp and run-up areas 7AM to 3PM local time on June 3 due to special events on the field (555th dedication event and annual Moon Tree Run).

Illinois Valley Airport Information: Fuel, parking, pilot camping, etc  

There are no food services at the airport. If you plan to fly in and camp the night before the event, it is advised you bring food for evening meals. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, you can go to the south end of the airport and visit Rough and Ready Forest Botanical Area. To get to this area, follow the entrance road from the smokejumper museum and after exiting the airport entrance gate, turn to the right and follow the airport fence for about a half mile to the botanical area. The wheelchair access trail takes you to a vista point with picnic table. If you want to walk to Seats Dam (good swimming on a hot day), follow the abandoned road for about a mile (hint: follow the water ditch up stream to the dam). The Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum has guided tours or you can take the self-guided tour around the grounds.  


Event Schedule
8:00-11:00 Firefighter Breakfast Fundraiser
                     Scrambled eggs pancakes sausage juice coffee
                     Adults 6.00       Seniors 5.00     Kids 3.00

8:00   Moon Tree Run Registration
9:00   Moon Tree Run begins
9:00   Live Music: Tim and Michelle play classic songs of the World War II era
9:00   Children activities begin
9:10    Japanese Balloon Bomb Attack 1945 (visitor center)
9:40    Oregon Black Pioneers (visitor center)
10:10  The 555th: Black Airborne Firefighters in the Northwest (visitor center)
11:15   Speakers at bandstand
12:00  Dedication of Oregon State historic marker for 555th Infantry story
12:30   Event ends

Children activities
Salmon Tent 
Rusk Ranch Nature Center
Family Coalition
Garden Club
Volunteer Firefighters


Birds and Brews 1:00-6:00

You can continue to have an amazing day in our amazing valley by going to the Birds and Brews Event at our incredible Siskiyou Field Institute located about 14 miles north of the Smokejumper Museum. Live music, hand crafted beverages, root beer and ice cream for the kids, youth activities, and birding excursions.  More information

Location: 42.278192, -123.645577
From the 555th event, drive about 14 miles north on Highway 199 to the second flashing yellow light in Selma. Turn left on Illinois River Road (gas station on this corner) and drive two miles to the Siskyou Field Institute on the left.