Afghan Air Assault: Umbrellas from the Sky

In 1964 I was a young Marine, and was fortunate…

In 1964 I was a young Marine, and was fortunate to receive the best training for a 0302 (Infantry officer) in the military at the US Army Ranger School. I remember that I noticed rappelling platforms situated in large oaks around the Ranger CP (command post) area at Fort Benning. I was told they belonged to a new Air Assault unit called the “Rakkasans,” or also known as, in Japanese, “umbrellas from the sky.”

DoD PhotoThis command and other units like it routinely distinguished themselves throughout the 10-year Vietnam campaign and provided the grunts in green with their primary source of rapid mobility, the helicopter. This honored legacy continues today, not in the rice paddies and jungles of Southeast Asia, but in mountains and foothills of a far more formidable environment, Afghanistan.

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