Rakkasans Honor Past and Future
February 25, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers and families from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), gathered to celebrate the history and lineage of the unit in a series of observances at the Rakkasan Pylon here Feb 19.
The unit conducted three ceremonies starting with the unit inducting several new Distinguished and Honorary Members of the Regiment.
Following the induction celebration, the 71st Anniversary of the founding of the 187th Infantry Regiment was observed and past fallen Soldiers were remembered with the laying of a wreath in their honor. The 187th Inf. Regt. forms the core of the Brigade and is the unit 3rd BCT draws its history and lineage from.
"I am truly honored to command the Rakkasans today and be but a small part of a regiment whose legacy is one of excellence; one that demands a tradition of service greater than self; and of a brotherhood of warriors who have led the way when our nation asked them," said Col. J.B. Vowell, the commander of 3rd BCT.
The Regiment was activated February 25, 1943 at Camp Mackall, N.C. as the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division and was assigned to the Pacific theater in mid 1944. Following a series of actions against enemy forces, the 187th Regiment became the first foreign Soldiers to enter Japan in more than 2,000 years. During their time as part of the American Occupation Forces in Japan, they earned their nickname from Japanese observing their airborne training who called them "Rakkasan", which loosely translates to falling down umbrella.
The Regiment has participated in all major U.S. conflicts since its inception, and in 2004, it was officially re designated the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. as part of the Army's realignment to BCTs.
"As a regiment we have been a lot of things," said Vowell. "Glider Infantry, Airborne Infantry, Light Infantry, Air Assault Infantry, Mobile Infantry. We have fought from the ground, from vehicle and from the air. Not too many units in the Army can claims this."
In addition to honoring the founding of the regiment and its history, the 3rd BCT recognized the future as well.
"Today, as we remember our activation some 71 years ago, we are undergoing a Brigade reorganization," said Vowell. "We are adding more artillery, more engineers, more logistics and an entire infantry battalion..the 2nd Battalion of the vaunted 506th Infantry Regiment, the "Currahees."
As the final event of the anniversary ceremony, the Soldiers of 3rd BCT welcomed their new senior enlisted Soldier Command Sgt. Maj. Walter A. Tagalicud in an Assumption of Responsibility Ceremony.
"I'm really looking forward to working with the Soldiers within this Brigade," said Tagalicud. "I feel very honored to be selected to be the Rakkasan sergeant major and to be able to give the commander a senior NCO perspective."
As the senior enlisted Soldier for the Brigade, it is his responsibility to ensure the commander?'s standards and policies are met, provide guidance for the commander and Soldiers and to serve at the moral compass for the unit.
"If we have high discipline and standards we would have less distraction, such as leaders not having to correct Soldiers," said Tagalicud. "With less time spent with distractions there can be more time and focus spent on training, morale and esprit de corps."
As ceremony drew to a close with the dismissal of the assembled Soldiers and congratulations to those honored in the ceremony, the Soldiers of 3rd Brigade took from the ceremony a sense of pride and knowledge that they are part of a proud lineage that stretches through history.
"I consider it amongst the highest of honors to serve with all of you brave men and women. Look to your left and to your right," said Tagalicud. "We -- all of us -- are serving with the best this country has to offer. Remember that every time you wake up, every time you put on the uniform, every time you walk out the door, every time you train, every time you fight -- for the great burden rests upon us and us alone to "Let Valor Not Fail."'