The 187th Infantry Regiment was constituted on 12 November 1942 at Camp
Mackall, North Carolina. On 25 February 1943, the 187th was activated. designated a glider
regiment, and assigned to the 11th Airborne Division. A two battalion regiment, 187th
trained and prepared for combat with its men trained at the end of the war both as
gliderists and parachutists.
In May 1944, the Regiment deployed with the Division to the southwest
Pacific debarking at Lae, New Guinea. With the invasion of the Philippines, the Regiment
landed at Leyte and participated in bitter fighting which included repulsing the only
Japanese airborne operation against US forces in WWII, and the bloody battle
of Purple Heart Hill in the mountains of Leyte
In January 1945, the 187th landed with the Division at Nasubu Bay,
south of Manila, to block Japanese forces and to advance on Manila from the south. From
January to April the 187th was in constant action, ranging from Nichols Field, Fort
McKinley and Manila to Mount Macolod and Malepunyo.
In May, the Regiment moved into Lipa to refit, rebuild, and prepare for
(he Invasion of Japan. At this time, the 3rd Battalion was formed and the Regiment was
redesigned a para-glider regiment. When the war ended, the 187th was selected to
spearhead the occupation of Japan and gained the distinction of being the first foreign
round combat unit to enter Japan.
While serving as occupation forces, the 187th received the title
"Rakkasan" from the Japanese which literally translated means
"Falling Down Umbrella". In April 949, the Rakkasans returned to the United
States with the 11th Airborne Division and settled into then Camp Campbell, Kentucky. In
early 1950, the Rakkasans participated in the largest peacetime airborne maneuver in
history, "Operation Swarmer". The Performance of the Regiment during this
maneuver was instrumental in the Regiment being selected to form an airborne regimental
combat team to enter the Korean conflict.
The Rakkasans participated in the Inchon landing operation in September
1950, and assisted in the liberation of Seoul and the Kimpo Peninsula. In October the
Rakkasans made a highly successful jump at Sukehon-sunchon, a classic example of the
striking power at well-trained airborne soldiers. Battles at Suan, Wonja and Kaesong were
followed by the famous Munsan-ni drop and the battles at bloody Inje. Koje-do established
another high mark in the reputation of the Rakkasans as they subdued rebellious POWs
at that camp.
With the adoption of the battle group concept in 1957, the 187th
Infantry was redesignated as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Airborne Battle Groups, 187th Infantry.
These battle groups served proudly in various units and locations to include the 101st
Airborne Division, the 11th Airborne Division in Germany, as part of the peacekeeping
force in Lebanon in 1958, and with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North
In February 1963, following another Army-wide reorganization, the unit
was redesignated the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry and assigned to the 11th Air Assault
Division at Fort Benning, Georgia who tested new air assault tactics. A year later,
following successful testing and evaluation of the concept, the Rakkasans were once again
assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
The Rakkasans soon returned to war when the 3rd Brigade of the 101st
deployed to Vietnam in 1967. There, in battles from the A Shau Valley to the Iron
Triangle, the Rakkasans added nine decorations and twelve battle streamers to the two
decorations and three battle streamers of WWII and the four decorations and six battle
streamers of Korea.
Upon return to the U.S. in 1972 with the 101st, the 3rd
Battalion of the Rakkasan Regiment preserved the history and traditions of the Rakkasans
until October of 1983, when the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Battalions were activated. On 21
November 1984, the 5th Battalion was activated bringing to five the number of Rakkasan
battalions on active duty. The 1st Battalion was inactivated in Panama on 1 May 1987. On
10 July, the 2nd Battalion was inactivated in Panama. The 5th and 4th Battalions at Fort
Campbell were redesignated as the 1st and 2nd Battalions, respectively, on 3 September
In September 1990, the Rakkasans once again answered the call and began
deploying to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. On 20-21 February
1991, two companies from 1st Battalion air assaulted into Objective Weber capturing 434
Iraqi soldiers. On 25 February 1991, the 48th Anniversary of the Regiment, the Rakkasans
conducted the deepest and largest air assault operation in history as it struck 155 miles
behind enemy lines into the Euphrates River valley. This action led to the timely defeat
of Iraqi forces and ensured a total allied victory.
The Rakkasans are the only airborne warfare regiment in the history of
the Army to fight in every war since the development of airborne tactics. From glider to
parachute to air landing to air assault by helicopter, the regiment has entered
combat using every mode of airborne assault and has pioneered the tactics that govern
these modes. In each, the Rakkasans have given meaning to "Ne Desit Virtus - Let
Valor Not Fail".