RAKKASANS by E.M. Flanagan


The Combat History of the 187th Airborne Infantry
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 An engrossing account of a notable US Army outfit whose history reflects the often convulsive changes that have occurred in American military doctrine, written by a retired lieutenant general who served with airborne outfits during WW II and in Korea. Drawing on a wealth of sources (including personal experience), Flanagan recounts how the 187th, formed in 1943 as a paraglider regiment, was blooded in the Philippines, performing heroically in the brutal battles for Leyte and Luzon. Chosen to be in the first wave of Allied troops to occupy Japan; the Rakkasans (``umbrella men,'' as they were known to their conquered foe) finally returned to the States at the start of 1949. Less than two years later, the 187th was back in Asia to fight as a regimental combat team in the Korean War; during their three-year stint, the 187th made two jumps under fire. In Vietnam, the 187th was represented by a single battalion (attached to the 101st Airborne) that made 115 helicopter attacks in the course of 21 separate campaigns. Among other accomplishments, the battalion helped beat entrenched NVA regulars in the savage struggle for Dong Ap Bia Mountain (a.k.a. Hamburger Hill). During the 18 years between its return from Indochina and the Gulf War, the 187th trained as a rapid-reaction force, did tours of duty in the Sinai (to monitor compliance with the first Israeli-Egyptian peace accord), and otherwise prepared for its next belligerency. As part of the brief but deadly Desert Storm campaign, the 187th staged the longest and largest air assault in military history, vertically enveloping over 150 miles of enemy territory along the Euphrates River from their base camp in Saudi Arabia. The absorbing annals of a single US regiment whose valor on killing grounds throughout the world says much about the nation for which it fought. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-89141-604-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997