Marker in Oregon recognizes nation’s first black paratroopers

PENDLETON, Ore. — History buffs, local officials and a sociology professor recently dedicated a historical marker in Oregon recognizing a segregated Army battalion comprised of the nation’s first black paratroopers.

Eastern Washington University sociologist Bob Bartlett said 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion soldiers thought they were heading to Japan when they stopped at Pendleton Army Airfield in the spring of 1945.

Barlett told Oregon Public Broadcasting the soldiers were instead assigned to fight forest fires as smokejumpers. They were also expected to find and dismantle bomb-carrying hydrogen balloons that Japan launched to drift across the Pacific.

The interpretive panel on Main Street in Pendleton describes the unit known as the Triple Nickles and their work. The marker also acknowledges the discrimination that the 300 or so black soldiers experienced in Pendleton at the time.

Man allegedly pepper sprays nine on Portland, Ore., bus

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 31-year-old man faces charges he assaulted nine people after he allegedly released pepper spray inside a bus in Portland, Ore.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported it’s not clear if the driver was targeted or hurt in the incident Saturday.

The man who released the spray fled the bus. Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen said officers later found and arrested a man matching the suspect’s description at a nearby restaurant.

Police said nine people were affected by the spray, which can cause coughing, shortness of breath and a burning sensation.

Allen said the man unbuckled his seat belt as officers were driving him to jail and tried to get out of the car. He’s now in custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

Former federal agent gets seven years for child porn

BILLINGS, Mont. — A former special agent for the State Department whose work included investigating child pornography cases has been sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced 49-year-old Shawn Thomas Conrad of Billings on Friday.

The case began when Billings police were investigating a report that Conrad tried to videotape a 12-year-old girl in the shower. Conrad was working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his employer seized an agency vehicle. He left a hard drive in the vehicle and asked several times for hit to be returned.

The Billings Gazette reported investigators recovered images of child pornography from the hard drive and a laptop even though Conrad had installed data wiping programs on both.

Conrad asked for supervised release, saying he’d already lost his job and retirement benefits.

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