Clarence Beavers, the last surviving member of a groundbreaking group of black paratroopers deployed during World War II against what were described as the world’s first intercontinental-range airborne weapons — giant bomb-laden balloons launched from Japan and aimed at North America — died on Dec. 4 at his home in Huntington, N.Y. He was 96.
His daughter Charlotta Beavers said the cause was heart failure.
Mr. Beavers was one of 17 soldiers who formed what became the Army’s first all-black paratroop unit, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
The unit, which began training in 1944, was never as famous as the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black Army Air Forces group from Alabama, but it was pioneering nonetheless.