MyBestYears.com's WE WILL REMEMBER honors a very special man who served courageously in
the South Pacific during World War II. We asked new novelist (
The Happy Immortals) Robert Boyd
Delano to pen his remembrances of service in the famed 187th Infantry Regiment of the 101st
Airborn Division (Air Assault) of the United States Army, with whom he served in the South Pacific
during World War II.

Also read the heartwarming story, "Bundles of Words in a Box,"
written by nationally-known columnist Ann DeFrange.
HOME        FAQs        SHOPPING CENTER        ADVERTISE        TERMS OF USE              

All contents © MyBestYears.com. No portion may be used in print, for broadcast or on the Internet without
prior permission. Contact:
admin@MyBestYears.com
The 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) is a regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) of
the United States Army.

The regimental motto is "Ne Desit Virtus" ("Let Valor Not Fail"). The nickname "Rakkasan," from the
Japanese word rakkasan which means "parachute," or literally "falling down umbrella," was given
REMEMBRANCES AND A TRIBUTE
    ...the World War II Adventures of Private Robert B. Delano

At age eighteen in 1944, it was looking like the war was going to end before I could get in. Two of my older brothers,
Fred and Dale, were in the service. I was the last of six sons, so my father got me a one-year deferment, but I couldn't
wait. I was caught up in the war fervor that gripped the whole world and couldn't wait to go into Guymon from our farm to
volunteer for the service. I did exactly that when I turned eighteen.

    After three months of basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, and two days at home for
    Christmas, I was sent by train to Ford Ord, California. After a few days there, I boarded the USS
    Golden Gate Bridge for parts unknown.

    It took thirty days to cross the Pacific Ocean. We could see many other troop ships on every
    side. Finally we docked at Finch Haven, New Guinea, for one day. Funny, but the one thing I
    remember most (as did most of the other soldiers on-board, I'm sure) was a native woman who
    stood in the water less than 100 feet from our ship. She was wearing nothing above the waist,
    held a spear and kept stabbing at fish, oblivious to thousands of young men far away from
    home gawking at her.

A few days later we landed at Tacloban, Leyte, in the Philippine Islands. It was February 1945. The greatest naval battle
of the Pacific war had just ended, and the hulls of partly sunken ships jutted out of the bay everywhere. We went ashore
in landing craft, then a few days later boarded another ship and sailed over to Manila. There, we skirted the rubble of the
bombed-out city on our way to a replacement camp.

FIRST NIGHT
My name was called a day later, and after being issued a rifle and hunting knife, I was sent about 80
miles south to the jungle encampment of the 187th Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division.
This was the storied regiment that fought in Leyte in the bloody battle of Purple Heart Hill during the
invasion of the Philippines. Then in January of 1945, just before I arrived, the 187th had landed
south of Manila on Nasubu Bay, blocking Japanese forces as part of the advance on Manila from
the south.

Company G had only 12 men left, and ten of those remaining had been killed one night by a tree
bomb while on patrol on a nearby mountain. As one of those brave men's replacements, my buddies and I stayed to
guard the perimeter of the pup-tent camp. We were told in no uncertain terms that the Japanese might attack, since our
Air Force was bombing to flush them out of their mountain hide-outs.

As night fell and we started our guard-duty rounds, there was an eerie glow from the mountain-top fires. I felt such an
unspeakable fear settling in. The farm on the Oklahoma plains and the comforts of my parents' home, which I had left
only five months before, now seemed like blurry scenes from another life that I would never know again.

Palm branches would drop occasionally for no apparent reason. I kept imagining that the enemy was crashing through
the underbrush. The jungle darkness was like a shroud.

After a few hours, a shot rang out. I thought, "This is it!" Actually, one of our guards had fired a round accidentally,
hitting the arm of one of our own guards. Other than rampant fear and the arm injury, our first night ended without
incident.

From then until April, the 187th fought our way from Nichols Field to Fort McKinley, Manila, Mount Macolod and
Malepunyo. I had always heard the phrase, "War is hell." I agree. I have tried again and again to forget all the things I
experienced during those days.

In May, we moved to Lipa to refit, rebuild and prepare for the expected invasion of Japan. Jump training facilities were
built at the Lipa airstrip, and we were given the option of becoming paratroopers, glidermen or transferring to an infantry
division still in combat in Luzon. Most of us opted for the jump training because it paid $50 a month extra.

BEGINNING OF THE END
By August, we completed our jump training and were ready to be dropped in an invasion of a northern island of Japan.
We had been told that it would be a fight to the end, and that casualties on both sides would extremely heavy. We
waited, knowing that few of us would probably make it home. Still, we knew what we had to do, and we were willing to do it
for the cause of freedom.

    Then on August 6, 1945. The B-29 Enola Gay, piloted and commanded by 509th
    Composite Group commander Colonel Paul Tibbets, was launched from North Field, an
    airbase on Tinian in the West Pacific, approximately 6 hours flight time away from Japan.

    At 08:15 (Hiroshima time), the Enola Gay dropped the nuclear bomb called "Little Boy"
    over the center of Hiroshima. Three days later, our Air Force dropped a plutonium
    implosion-type device code-named "Fat Man" on the city of Nagasaki. The use of these
    weapons resulted in the immediate deaths of around 100,000 to 200,000 people.

    It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon in our camp when the news came trickling in. The
    walkways between our tents came alive with excited troopers as the news sank in. Men
    jumped from their tents and headed for Lipa to celebrate. We started a big bonfire and
    burned the cold-weather gear that had been issued for the parachute drop into Japan!

The war was effectively over the moment "Little Boy" hit Japanese soil, yet it took awhile for the official ending to occur.
The 187th was flown to Okinawa and waited in pup tents for three weeks for the peace treaty to be signed aboard the
battleship
USS Missouri. Then we became the first foreign ground combat unit to enter the surrendered country.

I remember seeing Mt. Fujiyama from my plane window just before we landed at Atsugi Naval Air Base, 20 miles west of
Yokohama. We had no idea exactly what we would encounter, but were grateful that we met no resistance.

The propellers had been removed from the Japanese planes and their Ford trucks that burned charcoal were all parked
neatly. As we marched through the villages, the Japanese people looked so somber. Many of them bowed to us.

Look back now at age 81, I see that my survival came through no special prowess
on my part, but resulted from my faith and God's providential plans. I know I was
spared from what would have been an impossible situation had we been dropped
into that country.

At eighteen, I knew what I was getting into. We heard all the reports out there on the
Oklahoma Panhandle through our radio than ran off electricity from a wind charger.
I knew I might not come back home. And there were many times during my time in
the Philippines that I thought it was over.

Through it all, I knew we were fighting for a just cause against tyranny. It is my hope
and prayer that what the brave men and women in all branches of our armed
services have fought and died for will never be forgotten.

And I am especially proud to honor those who have served and continue to serve in the 187th Infantry Regiment of the
101st Airborne Division. Many are fighting now in Iraq.
The Rakkasans are the only airborne warfare regiment in
the history of the Army to fight in every war since the development of airborne tactics. From glider to
parachute to air landing to air assault by helicopter, the 187th Regiment has entered combat using every
mode of airborne assault and has pioneered the tactics that govern this kind of valiant assault.

The mottoes "Rak Solid Rakkasans" and "Let Valor Not Fail" continue to be part of the bold legacy of support and loyalty
of the 187th Infantry Regiment.
The 187th Rakkasans
were portrayed valiantly
in the movie,
Hamburger
Hill,
which focuses on
the lives of a squad of 14
U.S. Army soldiers of B
Company, 3rd Battalion,
187th Infanty Regiment,
101st Airborne Division
during the brutal 10 day
(May 11-20, 1969) battle
for Hill 937 in the
A Shau Valley of Vietnam.
KINDLE
PAPERBACK
Read Robert Boyd Delano's powerful post-World
War II novel,
The Happy Immortals. Click here for
more information.