The Rakkasans: The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry

The Rakkasans: The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry

The Rakkasans: The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry

The Rakkasans: The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry

Synopsis

Nicknamed Rakkasans - 'umbrella men' - by the Japanese, the 187th have fought in every major American military conflict from World War II to the Persian Gulf, and were the only airborne unit sent to Korea.

Excerpt

There are many American combat battalions that have shared the fighting in the four major military commitments to the battlefield during the latter part of the twentieth century. But there are few that carried the fight to the enemy as did the 187th Airborne Infantry -- the only airborne infantry unit to fight in all four of those conflicts: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. Therefore, the role of the 187th Airborne Infantry is an important part of the combat history of the U.S. Army. General Flanagan's book will take its place on the shelves of the military libraries of our nation.

To put the role of the 187th Regimental Combat Team and its battalions in perspective, one must appreciate that a major innovation of World War II was the ability to transport combat units to the immediate battlefield through the air by the use of parachutes and gliders. In Vietnam, the helicopter served that purpose. The 187th Infantry battalions were pioneers of such development during World War II and the conflict in Korea and helped significantly in perfecting the tactical use of the helicopter in Vietnam. Battalions of the 187th have served initially as glidermen and paratroopers and then as air assault troops in Vietnam and Iraq, launching their attacks in those two conflicts on and above the battlefield in assault helicopters. As fate would have it, three of the actions in which the 187th Infantry were involved were in the Far East, first as a regiment of the 11th Airborne Division in combat in the Philippines and in the occupation of Japan and later in Korea in Japan as a separate airborne combat team. During its stay in Japan, the Japanese referred to the 187th as the Rakkasans, a translation of the Japanese term for "Umbrella Man." Since those days, the Regiment has retained that nickname. During the war in Vietnam, the battalion of the Rakkasans fought many battles as part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and in Desert Storm the Rakkasans made the longest and largest helicopter air assault in military history. Stateside, elements of the 187th have been posted at Fort Benning with the 11th Airborne Division and at Fort Campbell as a part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

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