13th Airborne Corps

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Colonel Harry B Hildebrand
Colonel Harry B Hildebrand

11th Airborne WW II
Medal of Honor Recipient

Pvt Elmer E Fryar
Pfc Manuel Perez Jr

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The 187th Glider Infantry Regiment
Unit History

187th GIR Shoulder Patch he 187th Infantry Regiment was constituted on 12 November 1942 at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. On 25 February 1943, the 187th was activated. designated a glider regiment, and assigned to the 11th Airborne Division. A two battalion regiment, 187th trained and prepared for combat with its men trained at the end of the war both as gliderists and parachutists.

In May 1944, the Regiment deployed with the Division to the southwest Pacific debarking at Lae, New Guinea. On November 18th, the entire 11th Airborne Division landed on Bito Beach on Leyte. Four days later the 11th relieved the 7th Infantry Division. Initially, the 187th under Colonel Harry D Hildebrand (picture left) were charged with guarding the rear installation around Bito Beach. However, in the ensuing days the Japanese mounted their only airborne operation against US forces in WW II an jumped on the San Pablo airstrip on Leyte. General Swing immediately ordered a counterattack and rushed the 187th forward from Bito Beach. During the battle the 1st Battalion of the 187th captured the Japanese paratroopers flag which hangs today in the West Point Museum. Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion of the 187th under the command of Lt Col Arthur H Wilson Jr reinforced the 511th. Two days after Christmas the 187th moved to attack the Japanese positions at Anonang on two steep parallel ridges. The second ridge became known as Purple Heart Hill because of the large contingent of glidermen killed and wounded while taking it. After two days of ferocious fighting the ridge was seized.

In January 1945, the 187th landed with the Division at Nasubu Bay, south of Manila to seize Tagaytay Ridge and to advance on Manila from the south. From January to April the 187th was in constant action, ranging from Nichols Field, Fort McKinley and Manila to Mount Macolod and Malepunyo.

In May, the Regiment moved into Lipa to refit, rebuild, and prepare for (he Invasion of Japan. At this time, the 3rd Battalion was formed and the Regiment was redesigned a para-glider regiment. When the war ended, the 187th was selected to spearhead the occupation of Japan and gained the distinction of being the first foreign round combat unit to enter Japan.

187th GIR Company C - 2nd Platoon - 1st BattalionWhile serving as occupation forces, the 187th received the title "Rakkasan" from the Japanese which literally translated means "Falling Down Umbrella". In April 949, the Rakkasans returned to the United States with the 11th Airborne Division and settled into then Camp Campbell, Kentucky. In early 1950, the Rakkasans participated in the largest peacetime airborne maneuver in history, "Operation Swarmer". The Performance of the Regiment during this maneuver was instrumental in the Regiment being selected to form an airborne regimental combat team to enter the Korean conflict.

(picture above left: Men of the 187th GIR, Company C, 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion. (^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )

(Source: Col. William Weber (Ret) (DropZone))

187th Glider Infantry Regiment - Pictures  Photos 187th GIR  
  • 1st Battalion - 187th P/GIR - Photo of the 187th P/GIR Glidermen (Pfc Lawrence Ferrone) circa December 1946 at Yamoto, Japan.  (Photo courtesy of Cathy Ferrone Buontempo)
  • E Company 187th GIR - Photo of Company E, (1st Squad, 2nd Platoon) 187th GIR   (Back Row: Lawrence E Stevens, Murlin L Berry, Smith, Smithson, T/Sgt Lloyd Love (KIA), Bonner, Lt Parker; Kneeling: Pfc Edward Standora, Gene Crissman, Pfc George Russell (KIA), Pvt Ray Shadden & Pfc Edwin C Harris. location & date unknown)   
  • G Company 187th GIR - Photo of Company G, (2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon) 187th GIR in Okinawa circa August 15, 1945.  ( (left to right) Squatting: PFC Tony Sellaro (Morgantown, WV), PFC Vernon Hughes (St. Paul, MN), PFC Eugene Wagner (Texas). Standing: PFC Odeen Tyre, (Bristol, GA), PVT Andy Murray (Kentucky), PFC Charlie Stith (Jefferson City, MO), S/SGT George Zweirzybski (Chicago, IL), PVT Eugene DeAngelis (Toledo, OH), PFC Regis Neiman (Latrobe, PA), PFC Norman Hoff (Minnesota). )  (Photo courtesy of Odeen L Tyre)

R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944: The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Archer, Clark Paratroopers Odyssey : A History of the 517th Parachute Combat Team. 266p., 1985, ISBN: 0961601507
Astor, Gerald 'Battling Buzzards': The Odyssey of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team 1943-1945. 338p., 7/93, Donald I Fine Pub, ISBN: 0440236932
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Brooks, Victor Hell is Upon Us: D-Day in the Pacific-Saipan to Guam, June-August 1944. Da Capo Press, (Sept 2005) 384 p. ISBN: 0306813696
Davis, Donald A Lightning Strike: The Secret Mission to Kill Admiral Yamamoto and Avenge Pearl Harbor. New York: St. Martin Press, (March, 2005) 400 p. ISBN: 0-312-30906-6
Devlin, Gerard S  Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
Flanagan, Lt Gen E. M. Jr. USA (Ret.) The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division 1943-46 10/89, Presidio Press, 422 p. ISBN: 0891413588
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin (P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor  Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Into the Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II's Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat  Free Press, 3/13/2002, 320 p. ISBN: 0743214803
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007
The Center of Military History The War in the Mediterranean: A WWII Pictorial History Brasseys, Inc., 465 p. ISBN:1574881302

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