This is one of the best documented Posthumous Purple Heart groups to a Rakkasan. Technician 3rd Grade Guy Uhler Berkstresser Jr. was born October 26, 1923 in York, PA. He was a medic in the Medical Detachment of the 187th Glider Infantry, the Rakkasans! The group consists of his officially small machine engraved slot brooch posthumous Purple heart, edge numbered 382183 with its presentation case and shipping box with mailing box dated April 4, 1946, his Memorial cetificate and his Purple Heart award certificate with mailing tube. Also included is an original copy of the 11th Airborne Division Unit History, published prior to overseas action.
A 2 inch thick scrapbook accompanying this group obviously was put together by a family member. It includes a copy of his birth cerificate, his pictures at about age 3-4, his Baby Record Book, pictures and mementos from his days at Yale Collegiate Institute, York County Academy, original photos of Berkstresser and his buddies in New Guinea, original leters to and from him, photo with him wearing a jump jacket, newspaper articles and official letters and telegrams concerning his death and reburial stateside, a photo of the USAF Cemetary Nasugbu #1 Luzon PI, and church program from May 27, 1945 for the memorial service for Berkstresser and 3 other York County casualties.
The 187th was constituted 12 November 1942 in the Army of the United States as the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment and activated 25 February 1943 at Camp Mackall, NC, as an element of the 11th Airborne Division. After training at Camp Polk, LA, the regiment staged at Camp Stoneman, CA, on 29 April 1944 until it left the port of San Francisco on 6 May 1944. The regiment arrived in New Guinea with the rest of the 11th Airborne on 29 May 1944.
After conducting airborne training, practice amphibious landings, and jungle maneuvers, the 187th departed New Guinea on 11 November 1944 and arrived at Leyte Island, Philipines, on 18 November, landing at Bito Beach. While on Leyte, the 187th saw heavy fighting and suffered heavy casualties taking Purple Heart Hill. On 31 January, the 187th performed a para-amphibious assault at Nasugbu Bay on Luzon and fought their way into the jungle to Tagaytay Ridge. For their actions at Tagaytay Ridge, the soldiers of the 187th earned a Presidential Unit Citation. During the 11th Airborne Division’s assault on Manila in February 1945, the 187th captured Fort McKinley.
After the liberation of Manila, the 187th took part in heavy fighting throughout Luzon. The regiment fought for Hill 600 8-11 March and later seized the heavily defended Mount Macolod. After the final Japanese strongholds on Luzon were eliminated in June 1945, the 187th landed on Okinawa on 12 August. On 30 August, after Japan’s surrender, the 187th landed at Atsugi Airfield near Tokyo to serve as occupation forces. The soldiers of the 187th were the first foreign troops to enter Japan in 2,000 years.
The action in Leyte for this regiment is detailed in this webpage:
The action in which Berkstresser was killed in Luzon is detailed in the following web page:
The Battle for Manila is detailed at this website: