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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.
However, it was apparent that Korean era members would comprise the bulk of membership. As an aside, the post WWII name adopted by 187th during the Japan occupation (RAKKASAN) was incorporated in the naming of the Association. In all candor, it should really have been NAKAHSAN, Korean for parachuteman, as RAKKASAN is Japanese for it. However, too many of us at the time had been in the 187th in WWII and the occupation and the Jap version prevailed over the Korean. Besides it sounded better----BUT it is not historically accurate IF (?) one wanted to be a ‘purist’ ABOUT IT! BTW, the South Koreans really don’t like it.
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’.
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.