187th Infantry Regiment

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187th Infantry Regiment
Active 1943–present
Country United States
Allegiance Regular Army
Branch Infantry
Part of 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Units 1st Battalion

3rd Battalion

Garrison/HQ Fort Campbell
Nickname Rakkasans[1]
Motto Ne Desit Virtus

(Let Valor Not Fail)

Infantry Colors Blue and White
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Afghanistan Campaign
Iraq Campaign

NOTE: This page is currently under construction

The 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) is a regiment of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

The 187th is the only airborne regiment to fight in all major conflicts and wars since the inception of airborne tactics. It is also the only regiment to have served in combat in all forms of airborne warfare to include air landing, glider, parachute and air assault.

The unit was previously designated as the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment (2/43-4/45), 187th Paraglider Infantry Regiment (5/45-3/49), 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (8/50-5/56), 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment (5/56-6/66), and 187th Infantry Regiment (Air Assault) (7/66 to 9/04). Currently, the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of the 187th are active in the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade Combat Team (2d Battalion has been deactivated).



187th Infantry Regiment patches

World War II

The 187th Infantry Regiment was constituted on 12 November 1942 as the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment. On 25 February 1943, the Regiment was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division and activated at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. Following the poor results of airborne operations in Sicily and the Italian mainland in 43, many senior leaders felt that divisional size airborne forces were impractical and should be abandoned. The 11th Airborne Division in company with the 17th Airborne Division, was selected to conduct the Knollwood Maneuver, a major airborne exercise conducted on 7 December 1943 to ascertain the practicality of divisional-sized airborne units. The results were spectacular and the 187th - along with its sister regiments, the 188th and 511th - saved the concept of large-scale airborne operations in combat and paved the way for the creation of additional airborne divisions.

The 187th remained in reserve until January 1944. The unit was sent from Ft. Mackall to Fort Polk, Louisiana where they conducted maneuvers and tests for four weeks before being transferred again to Camp Stoneman, California. In May 1944, they 11th Airborne Division deployed to Milne Bay in New Guinea. On 11 November, the division was loaded on transports for Leyte in the Philippines. On 18 November, they landed and were attached to XXIV Corps and assigned with relieving the 7th Infantry Division, engage and destroy all Japanese forces in its operational area, and protect XXIV Corps rear-area supply dumps and airfields.[2]

On the night of 6 December 1944 the 187th successfully repelled an attack by the Japanese 3rd Parachute Regiment. The 187th fought continuously until January 1945 on Leyte and suffered heavy casualties taking Purple Heart Hill.

On 31 January 1945, the 187th and 188th GIRs performed an amphibious landing near Nasugbu in Southern Luzon. Once a beachhead was established, the units fought their way through the jungle to Tagaytay Ridge. On the morning of 12 February, the 1st and 2d Battalions, along with the entire 188th GIR, attacked Nichols Field, an airfield in the center of the heavily-fortified Genko Line. By nightfall, the field was secure. On 17 February, the division began their assault against Fort McKinley, where the Japanese commander of Luzon forces was headquartered. After six days of heavy fighting, the area was cleared. The regiment was among the leading units involved in the liberation of Manila, and was given the task of garrisoning the city. also captured Fort McKinley in the 11th Airborne Division's attack on Manila and conquered the heavily-defended Mount Macolod.[3]

At 0100 hours on 30 August 1945, the first planes carrying 187th soldiers left for Atsugi Airfield to spearhead the occupation of Japan. While serving as part of the American Occupation Force, the Japanese gave the paratroopers of the 187th Infantry Regiment the nickname "Rakkasan", which loosely translated means "falling umbrella."

Notable firsts for the 187th were:

  • The first airborne regiment (along with the 188th GIR) to conduct a combat amphibious landing on enemy-held shores (Luzon)
  • The first allied airborne force to meet with and destroy an enemy combat parachute operation (Leyte)
  • Among the first non-Japanese troops to enter Japan in 2,000 years

On 15 November 1948 the Regiment was allotted to the Regular Army. It was reorganized and redesignated as the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment on 30 June 1949.

Korean War

On 1 August 1950, the Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and posted to Japan. Following the Chinese intervention in the Korean War in November 1950, the Rakkasans, in company with the British 27th Brigade was designated to form a rear guard force to hold defensive positions at all costs in order to prevent the Chinese Forces from breaking through and overwhelming the U.S. Eighth Army Forces attempting to withdraw. For 12 days the Rakkasans and their British counterparts held the Chinese, denying them the opportunity to pursue the disrupted UN Forces. On 20 October 1950, the Regiment made successful combat parachute assaults on the towns of Sukch’on and Sunch’on, North Korea. It made a second successful parachute assault on 23 March 1952.[4]

On 26 June 1951, the Rakkasans redeployed to Japan where it became strategic reserve, but returned to Korea on 24 May 1952. It once more returned to Japan, 18 October 1952 but made its final return to Korea, 22 June 1953. The unit returned the United States in July 1955 The unit was quickly sent to Korea and within the first month defeated a enemy force of 3,000 soldiers. They also defeated the Chinese at the Battle of Wonju, performed another record-breaking airborne operation into Munsan-ni Valley, fought battles at bloody Inje and Wonton-ni, and quelled prison-camp riots at Koje-do.

The Rakkasans' successes in Korea changed the face of airborne warfare and revitalized interest in the use of paratroopers. It also convinced the Pentagon to reactivate XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Desert Storm

In September 1990, the Rakkasans deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. On 20 and 21 February 1991, two companies from 1st Battalion air assaulted into Objective Weber, capturing 434 Iraqi soldiers.[5] On 25 February 1991 - the 48th anniversary of the regiment - the Rakkasans conducted the largest and deepest air assault operation of its time — striking 155 miles behind enemy lines into the Euphrates River valley.[6]

War on Terror

Rakkasans in Afghanistan, 2010
During Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2002, the Rakkasans deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 101st Airborne Division's [[3rd Brigade Combat Team]. Most notably participated in Operation ANACONDA in the eastern Shah-i-Khot region. The 2nd Battalion (Raider Rakkasans) as well as C company, 1st Battalion were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for combat valor during this period.

Less than a year later the Rakkasans deployed with the 101st Airborne Division in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). During their deployment, the Rakkasans conducted several air assaults as well as ground attack convoys, secured numerous forward area refueling points in central Iraq, and participated in the liberation of Saddam Hussein International Airport. In the post-war phase, the Rakkasans conducted operations against guerrilla forces along the Syrian border and in the Tikrit triangle region of Iraq.[6]

In early 2004, the 187th returned to Fort Campbell for little more than a year. During that time it was reorganized under Army transformation and became the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT). The newly independent 3BCT also prepared for another deployment in support of OIF, departing for Iraq in September 2005 for OIF rotation 05-07, serving in the Salah Ad Din Province, near Tikrit. Returning in 2006, the Rakkasans underwent refit and re-training. A year later, in September 2007, the Rakkasans deployed to Iraq again for OIF rotation 07-09, operating southwest of Baghdad between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.[6]


  • Relieved 1 February 1951 from assignment to the 11th Airborne Division.
  • Regiment Assigned 1 July 1956 to the 101st Airborne Division.
  • 1st Battalion Reorganized and re-designated 1 March 1957 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry, relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division, and assigned to the 11th Airborne Division (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated).
  • On 25 April 1957, the following actions took place:
  1. Regimental Headquarters Relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division; concurrently reorganized and redesignated as the 187th Infantry Regiment, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System.
  2. 2nd Battalion Reorganized and re-designated Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry, and remained assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated)
  3. 3rd Battalion Inactivated at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division; concurrently re-designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry
  1. 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment constituted and activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an element of the 11th Air Assault Division.
  2. 2nd Battle Group relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division
  3. 3rd Battalion Relieved from assignment to the 11th Air Assault Division and assigned to the 101st Airborne Division
  • 2nd Battle Group Inactivated 3 February 1964 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • 1st Battle Group Inactivated 25 May 1964 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; concurrently consolidated with the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, and consolidated unit designated as the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, an element of the 11th Air Assault Division (later redesignated as the 11th Airborne Division)
  • On 1 October 1983, the following actions took place:
  1. 187th Infantry Regiment Regiment Withdrawn from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System
  2. 1st Battalion relieved from assignment to the 11th Airborne Division, assigned to the 193rd Infantry Brigade, and activated in Panama.
  3. 2nd Battle Group redesignated as the 2d Battalion, 187th Infantry, assigned to the 193rd Infantry Brigade, and activated in Panama
  • 1st Battalion Inactivated 1 May 1987 in Panama and relieved from assignment to the 193rd Infantry Brigade.
  • 2nd Battalion Inactivated 10 July 1987 in Panama and relieved from assignment to the 193rd Infantry Brigade.
  • On 16 September 1987, the 1st and 2d Battalions activated at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and were assigned to 101st Airborne Division.
  • In 2005, the 2d Battalion "Raider Rakkasans" stood down and the majority of troops were transferred to the 1-33 Cavalry

Their nickname "The Rakkasans" is derived from the Japanese word for parachute. The name was given to the 187th during its tour in occupied Japan following World War II. When a translator dealing with local Japanese dignitaries was trying to explain what their unit was trained to do (and not knowing the Japanese word for "airborne soldiers") he used the phrase "falling down umbrella men", or rakkasan. Amused by the clumsy word, the locals began to call the troopers by that nickname; it soon stuck and became a point of pride for the unit.


Distinctive Unit Insignia

A silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches in height overall consisting of the coat of arms of the organization blazoned: Azure on a pale nebuly Argent a double handed sword erect Gules attached below a silver scroll inscribed "NE DESIT VIRTUS" in black letters.

Symbolism: 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.

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved on 15 Dec 1952 for the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. On 3 Apr 1957 it was amended to add the motto. The insignia was redesignated on 7 Feb 1958 for the 187th Infantry Regiment.

Coat of Arms

Shield: Azure on a pale nebuly Argent a double-handed sword erect Gules. 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.

Crest: 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.

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.

Motto NE DESIT VIRTUS (Let Valor Not Fail).

Background: 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 winged sword.

To edit

As part of the occupation forces the 187th established bases in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of the Japanese Empire held by American Forces. Opposite them on the island of Karafuto they confronted Soviet Forces in what can truly be called the first example of the future cold war period in the Pacific Basin.

During 1945 and 1946 the 187th was engaged in disarming two Japanese Army Corps and the residue of Japanese Naval and Air Forces located on Hokkaido. These troops were first line forces of the Japanese army and were combat ready in every sense of the word. In mid 1946 on the island of Hokkaido, the Rakkasans supervised the first democratic elections ever held in the Japanese Empire.

In 1949 the Rakkasans returned to the United States with the 11th Airborne Division and were stationed at then, Camp Campbell, KY, where they comprised part of the strategic forces of the Army. Along with their sister Regiments of the 11th and 82nd Airborne Divisions, the Rakkasans participated in operation "SWARMER", the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever conducted. Their performance in this exercise in Feb/Mar 50 is directly related to their being chosen to deploy to Korea as an Airborne Regimental Combat Team to provide Gen MacArthur with an airborne capability in Korea following the North Korean invasion of South Korea. In Sep 1950 elements of the 187th were attached to the 1st Marine Division to participate in the amphibious landings at Inchon.

During the battles that followed the 187th assisted in the liberation of Seoul, thus earning the distinction of being the only Airborne Regiment to have helped liberate a second friendly nation's capital held by enemy forces. For this action the 187th received a Navy Presidential Citation, the only Airborne Regiment so decorated.

During their service in Korea the 187th conducted the two most successful combat parachute operations in history of regimental size or larger and were the first American airborne unit to conduct combat heavy drop operations bringing in their artillery and light armored vehicles to accompany and support the infantry battalions. The Rakkasans combat parachute assault in Oct 1950 assisted in the capture of Pyongyang, the North Korean capitol and the cut off of retreating North Korean forces from the capitol. This action again distinguished the 187th as being the only Airborne Regiment to assist in the capture of an enemy capitol for the second time in as many wars.

Again at Wonju in Feb 51 the Rakkasans were called upon to block a major Chinese offensive aimed at encircling a US Army Corps and a companion South Korean Corps. The Chinese had broken through the main line battle positions of these two Corps and were poised to encircle the rear areas and achieve a major victory. During the bloody five day battle the 187th in company with the 23rd and 38th Inf Regiments, blocked over 30,000 Chinese troops, decimating their units and enabling the two Corps to reestablish their forces and counterattack. The after action reports of this bloody battle characterized it as the most intense infantry engagement in modern history, and while the 187th sustained almost 15% total casualties, the Chinese lost ten times that number killed in action alone!

In March 1951 the Rakkasans engaged the enemy in another combat parachute operation at Munsan-Ni, denying the enemy strategic routes of communication and forestalling a major Chinese offensive. At Inje and Kumwha. The Rakkasans broke through Chinese main lines and penetrated their rear areas forcing the Chinese to abandon their offensive and return to a defensive posture.

Throughout their Korean war service the Rakkasans earned another Presidential Unit Citation and two Korean Presidential Citations and added five Battle Campaign Streamers to their colors, thus becoming the only Airborne Regiment to bear such battle honors. In fact, except for Ranger Infantry Companies(ABN), no other airborne force, friendly or enemy, saw combat in the Korean war.

Returned to the United States in 1955 the Rakkasans were stationed at Fort Bragg. When the army reorganized into the battle group concept the Rakkasans were formed into three battle groups. In mid-50s, the Rakkasans deployed to Europe as part of the 11th Airborne Division becoming one of three out of twenty-two WWII Airborne Regiments to serve as occupations forces in both the European and Pacific theatres. In 1958, the Rakkasans as part of the 24th Abn Bde, 24th Inf Div, deployed to Lebanon in the first major use of American Forces in the mid east to establish peace and preserve that nation's independence. Throughout its history elements of the 187th were assigned to the 11th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, becoming the only Airborne Regiment to have served in three of the five WWII Airborne Divisions.

In 1963 the elements of the 187th were assigned to the 11th Air Assault Division (Test), to spearhead testing the new Air Assault concept and to develop tactics and procedures for such. Their performance in this critical role gave birth to the concept of helicopter- borne combat forces in the US Armed Forces. Shortly following their outstanding performance in this role the 3/187th was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and premiered the conversion of that division to dual status as a Parachute and Air Assault unit.

The Rakkasans deployed to Vietnam as a part of the 101st Airborne Division in 1967. There, the 187th became known as the "nomad" unit as they were used in every corps area in the theatre in "hot spots" of enemy action. While in Vietnam the 187th earned two more Presidential Citations, two Valorous Unit Citations, a Meritorious Unit Citation and three Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and one Vietnamese Merit Citation as well as 12 Battle Campaign Streamers. Though far from being the most major battle of their service in Vietnam, it was the Rakkasans that defeated first line North Vietnamese Army Forces in the Battle for Hamburger Hill.

The Rakkasans returned to Fort Campbell in 1972 and were again consolidated as a full regiment of three battalions and assigned as the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). In addition, two Battalions of the 187th (one designated airborne) were assigned to the 193rd Inf Bde in Panama constituting the only U.S. Army Airborne capability in the Caribbean. As part of the strategic forces of the Army the Rakkasans participated in providing peacekeeping forces in the Sinai preserving the line of demarcation between Israeli and Egyptian forces.

Of interest, is the fact that the Japanese now, and during WWII, identify their airborne forces with the same title. Of even more interest is that the present Japanese Airborne Forces stem from the stimulus provided by the 187th during their post Korea stationing in Japan. The present Airborne Brigade of the Japanese Self Defense Ground Forces traces its' origin to the training provided by the Rakkasans during the mid-50s.



Campaign Participation Credit

World War II:

  • New Guinea
  • Leyte
  • Luzon (with arrowhead)

Korean War:

  • UN Offensive (with arrowhead)
  • CCF Intervention
  • First UN Counteroffensive (with arrowhead)
  • CCF Spring Offensive
  • Korea, Summer-Fall 1952
  • Korea, Summer 1953


  • Counteroffensive, Phase III
  • Tet Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive, Phase IV
  • Counteroffensive, Phase V
  • Counteroffensive, Phase VI
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Summer-Fall 1969
  • Winter-Spring 1970
  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive, Phase VII
  • Consolidation I
  • Consolidation II

Southwest Asia:

  • Defense of Saudi Arabia
  • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait


  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Tagaytay Ridge
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Sukchon
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Trang Bang
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for Dong Ap Bia Mountain
  • Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) for Inchon
  • Valorous Unit Award for Binh Duong Province
  • Valorous Unit Award for Thua Thien Province
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for Vietnam 1968
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for Southwest Asia
  • Army Superior Unit Award for 1995-1996
  • Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for 17 October 1944 TO 4 July 1945
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for Korea 1950-1952
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for Korea 1952-1953[7]

Note: The 1st Battalion was also awarded the following:

  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer embroidered IRAQ 2003
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer embroidered IRAQ 2007-2008[8]

Note: The 3rd Battalion was also awarded the following:

  • Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered IRAQ 2003
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer embroidered IRAQ 2003-2004[9]


  1. "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/spdes-123-ra_ar.html. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  2. http://www.11thairbornedivision.com/Home/leyte
  3. http://www.11thairbornedivision.com/Home/luzon
  4. http://www.korean-war.com/187airborne.html
  5. http://www.armystudyguide.com/content/Unit_history/regiment_history/187th-infantry-regiment-u.shtml
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 http://www.campbell.army.mil/units/101st/3BCT/Pages/3rd.aspx
  7. http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lineages/branches/inf/0187in.htm
  8. http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lineages/branches/inf/0187in001bn.htm
  9. http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lineages/branches/inf/0187in003bn.htm
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