3rd Brigade Combat Team (187th Infantry Regiment),
101st Airborne Division
3rd Brigade, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
The mission of the 3rd Brigade Comabt Team, 101st Airborne Division is to deploy within 36 hours worldwide as part of a joint multinational, or unilateral task force and destroy enemy forces or seize and retain terrain, to control land, people and resources.
The 187th Infantry Regiment is the only airborne regiment in the history of the US Army to fight in every war since the inception of airborne tactics. The 3d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) traces its lineage back to the organization of Headquarters, 160th Infantry Brigade. It was organized on August 1917 as an element of the 80th Division at Camp Lee, Virginia. Through numerous reorganizations and redesignations, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade evolved into its modern configuration on February 1964. The Brigade was traditionally composed of three infantry battalions. From 1964 until 1971, the Brigade's battalions were the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, and the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 506th Infantry Regiment. Between 1964 and 1967 these units conducted challenging and diverse operations, ranging from the Mojave Desert to Norway. Prepared for both conventional and unconventional war contingencies, the 3rd Brigade deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in December 1967 during Operation Eagle Thrust. It was the world's largest and longest airlift directly into a combat zone.
For the next four years, the Brigade's motto "ready to move and ready to fight" became a reality. Separated in 1968 from the remainder of the 101st Airborne Division, the Brigade became known as the "Fire Brigade" and the "Wandering Warrior." It fought with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta region, the 4th Infantry Division in the central highlands, and the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. The Brigade rejoined the Division on 29 August 1968 as the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), a name selected to reflect the transition from parachute to helicopter. From 1968 until 1971, the Brigade participated in many airmobile combat operations such as Operation Apache Snow and Operation Montgomery Rendezvous, which helped destroy North Vietnamese base camps and cut supply lines in the A Shau Valley. Brigade elements also fought beside the 3rd Marine Division and the Republic of Vietnam Forces throughout Quang Tri Province.
On 20 November 1971, the 3d Brigade redeployed to the United States and returned to its home at Fort Campbell. It was reorganized, with elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, as the only parachute-qualified brigade in the Division. The 1st and 2nd Battalions, 503rd Infantry Regiment replaced the two battalions of the 506th Infantry Regiment. On 1 April 1974, the Brigade lost its jump status and by October the Division's "Airmobile" designation was changed to "Air Assault." On 1 October 1983, the 4th Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment was activated as part of the Brigade and the 2nd Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment was concurrently relieved from assignment and inactivated. A year later, the 5th Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment was activated and replaced the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. The Brigade now consisted of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment.
In the summer of 1987, the 1st and 2d Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment were relieved from their assignments to the 193rd Infantry Brigade in Panama. This allowed the Department of the Army to realign its combat force. During a memorable ceremony at Fort Campbell, the 4th and 5th Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment were redesignated as the 2nd and 1st Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment, which resulted in the organization present today.
In September 1990, the 3d Brigade began deploying to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during Operation Desert Shield. On 20 and 21 February 1991, two companies from 1st Battalion air assaulted into Objective Weber and captured 434 Iraqi soldiers. On 25 February 1991, the Brigade conducted the largest and deepest 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 helped ensure a total allied victory.
The Regimental Combat Patch (the unit's distinctive combat insignia), was officially adopted 10 June 1952 by the Department of the Army. The patch was worn on the right sleeve of the Rakksans that had served in combat with the 187th. This shoulder patch had been designed while the 187th was in combat in Korea and the unit was eager for its adoption. General Matthew B. Ridgeway, as Commanding General of the Far East Command gave temporary approval of the patch until the present one was approved. The only difference between the original shoulder patch and the one officially adopted was the blue background color. The original used Infantry Blue and the official patch uses Ultramarine Blue. The Symbolism of the 187th Combat Patch is clearly defined: The white parachute represents the paratroopers that descend from the blue sky into the flames of war, on the (Airborne) wings of war.
The 187th Infantry Regiment was constituted on 12 November 1942 at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. On 25 February 1943 it was activated and designated as a glider infantry regiment assigned to the 11th Airborne Division. The first mission of the Regiment was to help convince the War Department that an airborne division could fly over water on instruments at night to a target, drop with minimal casualties, and then wage sustained combat operations while being resupplied entirely by air. On 6 December 1943, the Division's landings were perfectly executed and by dawn the next morning, the objective was 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 on the night of 6 December 1944 was attacked by the Japanese 3rd Parachute Regiment. The Rakkasans repelled the enemy force and three months later seized Lipa Airfield on Luzon. The 187th fought continuously until January 1945 on Leyte and suffered heavy casualties taking Purple Heart Hill. At Nasugbu Bay, the Regiment performed a para-amphibious assault and fought their way into the jungle to Tagaytay Ridge. They also captured Fort McKinley in the 11th Airborne Division's attack on Manila and conquered the heavily defended Mount Macolod. At 0100 hours on 30 August 1945, the first planes carrying 187th soldiers left for Atsugi Airfield. This was a momentous occasion; the Rakkasans were the first foreign troops to enter Japan in 2,000 years.
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."
On 27 August 1950, the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. The unit was quickly sent to Korea and within the first month defeated a enemy force of 3,000 soldiers. The Rakkasans then performed a textbook parachute assault and heavy drop at Sukchon-Sunchon. 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.
On 13 December 1967, the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment reported for duty in the Republic of Vietnam. The Rakkasans were called upon to perform many hazardous operations including the defense of Bien Hoa Military Base and the US Embassy in Saigon. They were awarded a Valorous Unit Citation for their actions at Dong Ngai and a Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Dong Ap Bia Mountain. In battles from the A Shau Valley to the Iron Triangle, the Rakkasans added nine decorations and twelve battle streamers to the Regiment's proud lineage.
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 and 21 February 1991, two companies from 1st Battalion air assaulted into Objective Weber and captured 434 Iraqi soldiers. On 25 February 1991, the 48th Anniversary of the Regiment, the Rakkasans conducted the largest and deepest 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 helped ensure a total allied victory.
The 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, deployed to Afghanistan in early 2002, to provide security to the Kandahar International Aiport, as part of Task Force Rakkasans.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|