Airborne Regiment Nicknames

The informant is a military veteran who served for thirty seven years. He retired a two star major general, a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal with oak leaf cluster. He is a Master Parachutist and served in the 503rd Parachute Infantry and the 187th Regimental Combat Team.

Both of these regiments have nicknames which have stories to explain them. The stories behind the nicknames became folklore as they were repeated and embellished by future members of the regiment.

“Informant: And then of course, most units have a, uh, motto or a battle cry. For example, the regimenty I was with during te Korean War.

Interviewer: Which regiment is that?

Informant: That’s the 187th parachute infantry regiment. And, uh, they were known as the “Rakasans”. That’s R-A-K-K-A-S-A-N-S. Rakkasans…they got that, uh, when they were in Japan, in the occupation of Japan and the Rakkasan is the Japanese word for “paratrooper”. And the Japanese had Rakkasan Bouta, which are Rakkasan troops. The literal translation of Rakkasan in Japanese is “falling down umbrella”. But, uh, the meaning of the word is paratrooper in Japanese.

Interviewer: Did you guys have a motto or battlecry?

Informant: Uhh…Rakkasan!

Interviewer: Oh, you just yell that?

Informant: Right. And, uh, the, uh…regiment I was with in WWII was the 503rd parachute infantry regiment. Ou rnickname and battle cry was “The Rock”. R-O-C-K. Because we jumped on Corregidor. That’s C-O-R-R-E-G-I-D-O-R-. Corregidor stood at the entrance to Manila Bay. And, uh, when General MacArthur left the phillipines in 1942, he left in a PT boat from the island of Corregidor and that was the…sure and certain sign that United States of America had lost the phillipine islands to the Japanese. Um, now yo flash forward to 1945, and uh, in March or, excuse me, February, excuse me, February of 1945, the 503rd parachiute infantry rgeiment jumped on Corregidor. There were supposed to be… G2, the intelligence people, estimated there 600 Japanese soldiers. Turned out there were 5,000 Imperial Marines on Corregidor and the 503rd parachute infantry regiment had 2,000 troops. They jumped on Corregidor, captured the island, and killed 4,500 Japs…uh…lost… had about 1,000 casualties. And Corregidor was known as “The Rock”, so that became the motto or the nickname of the rgeiment, was the rock regiment.”