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Preserving the Legacy...
In the late summer of 1980 a group of a few WII 187 vets who were also Korea and mostly Korean War RAKKASANS met in Nashville, TN and developed plans to form a RAKKASAN Fraternal Association. While the basic premise was to focus on Korean era veterans because of the RCT era being the most potentially fruitful for gaining members, care was taken to ensure welcoming WWII vets as well without antagonizing the 11th Abn Div Assn. RVN era vets of 3/187 were also welcomed.
A temporary slate of officers (President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer) were selected and plans initiated to gain a Charter for the Ass’n. Such was obtained and certified shortly thereafter. The initial officers were: President, Jerry Mazur, Vice President, Bill Weber, Secretary/Treasurer, Frank Schoch, Shortly afterwards, Mazur resigned for personal reasons and Weber became President, ‘Doc’ Flevares, Vice President and Frank Schoch as the Secretary.
They held those positions for over a decade, many of the traditions of the fraternity stem from that tenure. Plans were made to have an inaugural Reunion in Nashville and to define and accept Chapter organization. Response from 187th ARCT veterans exceeded initial estimates and in less than a year over six Chapters had been formed, with four more pending and membership approached a thousand. A Ladies Auxiliary named Reserve RAKKASANS was formed and ultimately melded into full membership status. The membership grew and reunions in the early years had as many as 250-300 attending, not counting wives and family members.
Time however, took a toll and an average attendance hovered around 125-150 not counting wives. Membership began to decline after the 1990 50th Anniversary of Airborne in Washington, DC. Attempts were made to encourage RVN era RAKKASANS to become more prevalent in the late 90s because 10 years of a BCT RVN vet population almost exceeded the residue of 3 years of a RCT Korean era population. Didn’t work too well—the generational and war experiences were too different. Now however, the ‘war, conflict and uneasy peace’ generations can meld since the Regiment has a unique history. It is the only Regiment of airborne vintage that has had it’s Colors serve in combat in every war and operation since the development of ‘airborne’! The RAKKASANS can, with no hesitancy, claim the ‘Right of the Line of Airborne’.
Coat of Arms
Azure on a pale nebuly Argent a double handed sword erect Gules.
On a wreath Argent and Azure between a Japanese city symbol Gules and a mullet of seven points per fess wavy of the last and of the second, a sea lion Or charged on the shoulder with a heart Purpure and holding in his dexter paw a sword bendwise of the first with hilt and pommel of the fourth the blade notched three times to base of the third.
NE DESIT VIRTUS (Let Valor Not Fail).
Blue is for the Infantry. The partition line of the pale heraldically representing clouds and the doubled-handed sword, an ancient infantry weapon, symbolizes the character of the organization as an Airborne Infantry unit.
The golden seal lion, adapted from the seal of the President of the Philippines, represents the award of the Philippine Presidential Unit Streamer for the campaign on Manarawat, scene of the first combat jump of the 187th. The heart on the lion's shoulder points out the action on Purple Heart Hill. The winged sword with three notches in the blade signifies the unit's score of three combat jumps, one in the Philippines and two in Korea. The red diamond shape is the insignia of the city of Yokohama, Japan, where the 187th landed as the first American combat troops and began four years of occupation duty. The seven-pointed star, divided in the manner of the Korean Taeguk stands for the unit's seven campaigns in that country.
The coat of arms was originally approved on 15 Dec 1952 for the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. It was redesignated for the 187th Infantry on 7 Feb 1958. On 15 Apr 1965 the coat of arms was amended to add a crest. 19 Dec 1984 the symbolism was amended to more accurately reflect the three notches in the blade of the sword.
That is Valhalla, the Rakkasans have already arrived.
Implemented by the fathers of the Association, They were compelled to find a means of honoring those who were KIA or had otherwise passed, while inferring that their presence was among those who remain and that at some point, they would all join up together again. Without making it sorrowful--but instead accepting that it would eventually come to all and that it was an honorable end, to be feted, not feared!.
Ergo, a Rakkasan Valhalla, where warfighters be together in ranks again. In Norse mythology, Valhalla (“hall of the slain”) is an enormous and majestic hall in Asgard, presided over by Odin. Described as a "warrior's paradise," it is here that the souls of those who are slain in battle go, chosen and guided by the Valkyries, a group of warrior maidens in service to Odin.
As time continues to march and the faces of the Association change, current members will continue to be keepers of the flame. They will not let their predecessors down. Their names will live into eternity through their actions and will forever be passed down from generation to generation.
187TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
(Previously designated as 187th Glider Inf Regt (2/43-4/45), 187th Paraglider Inf Regt (5/45-3/49),
187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (8/50-5/56),
187th Airborne Inf Regt (5/56-6/66), 187th Inf Regt(Air Assault) (7/66 to 9/04)
3rd Brigade Combat Team (187th Infantry), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
BY: COL(RET) WM. E. WEBER
On 25 Feb 05, the 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) completed sixty-two years of unbroken service to our nation, people and the United States Army. In itself this is not an occasion unique amongst the Regiments of the army, for many can lay claim to as much and more service.
However, the Regiment’s history is unique because of the exceptional nature of its’ service. The 187th is the only airborne regiment of the army to have served in all major conflicts and wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq) since the inception of airborne warfare in the US Armed Forces in 1940. Further, it is the only Regiment to have served in combat in all forms of airborne warfare to include air landing, glider, parachute and air assault. No other Regiment in the army can lay claim to that distinction and it is doubtful that any Regiment of any army in the world can claim a similar record.
The 187th was constituted and designated on 12 Nov 42 and activated on 25 Feb 43 as a glider regiment and assigned to the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, NC. Following the poor results of airborne... continue reading
Men of Honor
Wilson, Richard G.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Co. I, Medical Company, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
Place and date: Opari, Korea, 21 October 1950.
Entered service at: Cape Girardeau Mo.
Citation: Pfc. Wilson distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. As medical aid man attached to Company I, he accompanied the unit during a reconnaissance in force through the hilly country near Opari. The main body of the company was passing through a narrow valley flanked on 3 sides by high hills when the enemy laid down a barrage of mortar, automatic-weapons and small-arms fire. The company suffered a large number of casualties from the intense hostile fire while fighting its way out of the ambush. Pfc. Wilson proceeded at once to move among the wounded and administered aid to them oblivious of the danger to himself, constantly exposing himself to hostile fire. The company commander ordered a withdrawal as the enemy threatened to encircle and isolate the company. As his unit withdrew Private Wilson assisted wounded men to safety and assured himself that none were left behind. After the company had pulled back he learned that a comrade previously thought dead had been seen to be moving and attempting to crawl to safety. Despite the protests of his comrades, unarmed and facing a merciless enemy, Pfc. Wilson returned to the dangerous position in search of his comrade. Two days later a patrol found him lying beside the man he returned to aid. He had been shot several times while trying to shield and administer aid to the wounded man. Pfc. Wilson's superb personal bravery, consummate courage and willing self-sacrifice for his comrades reflect untold glory upon himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the military service.
BALDONADO, JOE R.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company B, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
Place and date: November 15, 1950. Kangdong, Korea
Entered service at: Santa Clara, CA.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Joe R. Baldonado distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an acting machine gunner in 3d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company B, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kangdong, Korea on November 25, 1950. On that morning, the enemy launched a strong attack in an effort to seize the hill occupied by Corporal Baldonado and his company. The platoon had expended most of its ammunition in repelling the enemy attack and the platoon leader decided to commit his 3d Squad, with its supply of ammunition, in the defensive action. Since there was no time to dig in because of the proximity of the enemy, who had advanced to within twenty-five yards of the platoon position, Corporal Baldonado emplaced his weapon in an exposed position and delivered a withering stream of fire on the advancing enemy, causing them to fall back in disorder. The enemy then concentrated all their fire on Corporal Baldonado's gun and attempted to knock it out by rushing the position in small groups and hurling hand grenades. Several times, grenades exploded extremely close to Corporal Baldonado but failed to interrupt his continuous firing. The hostile troops made repeated attempts to storm his position and were driven back each time with appalling casualties. The enemy finally withdrew after making a final assault on Corporal Baldonado's position during which a grenade landed near his gun, killing him instantly. Corporal Baldonado's extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
HERNANDEZ, RODOLFO P
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team.
Place and date: Near Wontong-ni, Korea, 31 May 1951.
Entered service at: Fowler, Calif.
Citation: Cpl. Hernandez, a member of Company G, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His platoon, in defensive positions on Hill 420, came under ruthless attack by a numerically superior and fanatical hostile force, accompanied by heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire which inflicted numerous casualties on the platoon. His comrades were forced to withdraw due to lack of ammunition but Cpl. Hernandez, although wounded in an exchange of grenades, continued to deliver deadly fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants until a ruptured cartridge rendered his rifle inoperative. Immediately leaving his position, Cpl. Hernandez rushed the enemy armed only with rifle and bayonet. Fearlessly engaging the foe, he killed 6 of the enemy before falling unconscious from grenade, bayonet, and bullet wounds but his heroic action momentarily halted the enemy advance and enabled his unit to counterattack and retake the lost ground. The indomitable fighting spirit, outstanding courage, and tenacious devotion to duty clearly demonstrated by Cpl. Hernandez reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army.
HAMMOND, LESTER, JR.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company A, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team
Place and date: Near Kumwha, Korea, 14 August 1952.
Entered service at: Quincy, Ill.
Citation: Cpl. Hammond, a radio operator with Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Cpl. Hammond was a member of a 6 man reconnaissance patrol which had penetrated approximately 3,500 yards into enemy-held territory. Ambushed and partially surrounded by a large hostile force, the small group opened fire, then quickly withdrew up a narrow ravine in search of protective cover. Despite a wound sustained in the initial exchange of fire and imminent danger of being overrun by the numerically superior foe, he refused to seek shelter and, remaining in an exposed place, called for artillery fire to support a defensive action. Constantly vulnerable to enemy observation and action, he coordinated and directed crippling fire on the assailants, inflicting heavy casualties and repulsing several attempts to overrun friendly positions. Although wounded a second time, he remained steadfast and maintained his stand until mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit set an inspiring example of valor to his comrades and, through his actions, the onslaught was stemmed, enabling a friendly platoon to reach the beleaguered patrol, evacuate the wounded, and effect a safe withdrawal to friendly lines. Cpl. Hammond's unflinching courage and consummate devotion to duty reflect lasting glory on himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service
BUCHA, PAUL WILLIAM
Rank and Organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company D, 3d Battalion. 187th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Place and Date: Near Phuoc Vinh, Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 16-19 March 1968
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Bucha distinguished himself while serving as commanding officer, Company D, on a reconnaissance-in-force mission against enemy forces near Phuoc Vinh, The company was inserted by helicopter into the suspected enemy stronghold to locate and destroy the enemy. During this period Capt. Bucha aggressively and courageously led his men in the destruction of enemy fortifications and base areas and eliminated scattered resistance impeding the advance of the company. On 18 March while advancing to contact, the lead elements of the company became engaged by the heavy automatic weapon, heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenade, Claymore mine and small-arms fire of an estimated battalion-size force. Capt. Bucha, with complete disregard for his safety, moved to the threatened area to direct the defense and ordered reinforcements to the aid of the lead element. Seeing that his men were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire from a concealed bunker located some 40 meters to the front of the positions, Capt. Bucha crawled through the hail of fire to single-handedly destroy the bunker with grenades. During this heroic action Capt. Bucha received a painful shrapnel wound. Returning to the perimeter, he observed that his unit could not hold its positions and repel the human wave assaults launched by the determined enemy. Capt. Bucha ordered the withdrawal of the unit elements and covered the withdrawal to positions of a company perimeter from which he could direct fire upon the charging enemy. When 1 friendly element retrieving casualties
was ambushed and cut off from the perimeter, Capt. Bucha ordered them to feign death and he directed artillery fire around them. During the night Capt. Bucha moved throughout the position, distributing ammunition, providing encouragement and insuring the integrity of the defense. He directed artillery, helicopter gunship and Air Force gunship fire on the enemy strong points and attacking forces, marking the positions with smoke grenades. Using flashlights in complete view of enemy snipers, he directed the medical evacuation of 3 air-ambulance loads of seriously wounded personnel and the helicopter supply of his company. At daybreak Capt. Bucha led a rescue party to recover the dead and wounded members of the ambushed element. During the period of intensive combat, Capt. Bucha, by his extraordinary heroism, inspirational example, outstanding leadership and professional competence, led his company in the decimation of a superior enemy force which left 156 dead on the battlefield. His bravery and gallantry at the risk of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, Capt. Bucha has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.