3 BCT “Rakkasans”
Third Brigade Combat Team (3BCT), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) “Rakkasan”
The 187th infantry regiment, from which the Rakkasans draw their history and lineage, was constituted on Nov. 12 1942, at Camp Mackall, N.C. On Feb. 25, 1943, it was activated and designated as a Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) assigned to the 11th Airborne Division.
The first mission of the 187th GIR was to convince the War Department that an airborne division could fly over water at night, drop with minimal casualties, and wage sustained combat operations while being resupplied entirely by air. The mission was deemed a success on Dec. 6, 1943, as the landings were perfectly executed and the objective taken. The success of the Knollwood Maneuvers proved the effectiveness of the airborne division concept and compelled the war department to create other airborne divisions.
In May 1944, the regiment deployed to the southwest pacific and was attacked by the Japanese 3rd Parachute Regiment on Dec. 6, 1944. The 187th repelled the enemy force and, three months later, seized Lipa Airfield on Luzon. The 187th fought continuously until January 1945, and suffered heavy casualties while taking Purple Heart Hill. On Aug. 30, 1945, at 1 a.m., the first planes carrying 187th Soldiers left for Atsugi Airfield. This was a momentous occasion, as the 187th would be the first American as well as foreign troops to enter Japan in more than 2,000 years. While serving as part of the American Occupation Force and conducting training jumps, it was the Japanese who gave the paratroopers of the 187th Infantry Regiment the nickname “Rakkasan,” loosely translated as “falling umbrella.”
On Aug. 27, 1950, the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment was reorganized and re-designated as the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. In September 1950, elements of the 187th exploited the success of the Inchon landings, clearing the Kimpo Peninsula between the Han River and the Yellow Sea. In the months that followed, the unit defeated an enemy force of more than 3,000 soldiers, performed a textbook parachute assault and heavy drop at Sukchon-Sunchon, and defeated the Chinese in the Battle of Wonju. The Rakkasans again performed another record-breaking airborne operation into the Munsan-ni Valley, fighting battles at Inje, Kumwha, 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, N.C.
On Dec. 13, 1967, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, reported for duty in the Republic of Vietnam. The Rakkasans were called upon to perform many hazardous operations against “hot spots” of enemy activity throughout every corps area in the Vietnam Theater and became known as the “nomad” unit. Though not the only battle of their service in Vietnam, it was the Rakkasans that defeated the first line Vietnamese army forces in the battle for Hamburger Hill, Don Ap Bia.
In September 1990, the Rakkasans deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. In February 1991, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment air assaulted into Objective Weber and captured more than 400 Iraqi soldiers. However, it was on Feb. 25, 1991, the 48th anniversary of the regiment, that the Rakkasans conducted the largest and deepest air assault operation of its time—striking 155 miles behind enemy lines into the Euphrates River valley. This action led to the timely defeat of Iraqi forces and helped ensure a total Allied victory.
In 2002, as part of the ongoing war on terrorism, the Rakkasans were deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). They conducted operations against the Taliban forces and were instrumental in liberating the nation from Muslim extremists. The Rakkasans took part in numerous missions in Afghanistan, to include fighting in the Shah-I-Kot mountain region of eastern Afghanistan known as Operation Anaconda.
In 2003, only months after their return, the Soldiers of the 187th Infantry were sent back to Southwest Asia to defeat Saddam Hussein and free the Iraqi people from his dictatorial form of government. Throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Rakkasans conducted several air assaults as well as ground attack convoys (GAC), they secured numerous forward area refueling points (FARP) in central Iraq and they 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.
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 Operation Iraqi Freedom, 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.
In January 2010, the Soldiers of 3BCT deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom X-XI and were located in Regional Command East, near the Pakistan border. During OEF X-XI, Task Force Rakkasan completed nearly 600 major named operations, with individual battalion task forces conducting over 12,000 unit-level patrols in Paktika, Pakyta, Khowst provinces, Deh Yak and Andar districts in Ghazni province, and Panjwa’I district. Task Force Rakkasan units also conducted almost 2,200 Key Leader Engagements (KLEs) or shuras with local village leaders.
Even now, the Rakkasans have begun preparing for their next “Rendezvous with Destiny,” being the only BCT with an airborne regiment lineage in the history of the U.S. Army to fight in every war since the inception of airborne tactics. From glider, to parachute, to helicopter, the Rakkasans have entered combat in each mode of airborne warfare and have pioneered its implementation. Throughout their history, the Rakkasans have upheld the motto “Ne Desit Virtus—Let Valor Not Fail” and continue to do so today.
1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment (1-187 IN; Leader Rakkasans)
3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment (3-187 IN; Iron Rakkasans)
1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry (1-33 CAV; War Rakkasans)
3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment (3-320 FA; Red Knight Rakkasans)
3rd Special Troops Battalion (3STB; Rak Solid Rakkasans)
626th Brigade Support Battalion (626 BSB; Assurgam Rakkasans)