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Nason Dale Stalnaker

"When he reached the last hole he saw, far to the west, a series of rockets bloom in the sky. He watched their green and yellow and red petals arch across the horizon, and fade into the gloom of the earth. It was very beautiful, but he recognized them for Chinese rockets."

Pat Frank, Hold Back the Night

Nason Dale Stalnaker was born in West Virginia on February 5, 1931, to parents Nason Carder Stalnaker and Leta Blake Stalnaker. Leta was also known as "Ulcie" and "Alice" during her lifetime.

The 1930 Federal Census-taker recorded that Nason's parents were found in the Glade District of Barbour County. Mrs. Stalnaker's parents, Richard and Martha Blake, were living with the couple. Mr. Stalnaker was a farmer, and Mr. Blake was listed as a laborer on the farm.

In 1940, the census taker recorded that the Stalnakers were living in Clarksburg. Mr. and Mrs. Stalnaker were then listed with a son, also named Nason. Mr. Stalnaker was listed as a truck driver. Mrs. Stalnaker was not listed with an occupation. Their son Nason was nine years old.

No records were found of Nason D. Stalnaker's education and hobbies, but the family's application for a military headstone records his enlistment date as August 24, 1949. He was eventually placed with the 187th Airborne Infantry.

The history of the 187th began in World War II as a glider infantry unit. They engaged in many successful campaigns and were the first foreign troops to enter Japan in 2000 years. They were nicknamed "Rakkasans," meaning, loosely, "falling umbrellas." In the Korean War, they were a parachuting unit [thus explaining the nickname], combined with the 674th Field Artillery Battalion to form the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. Its missions in Korea began with the clearing of the Kimpo Peninsula in September 1950. ("187th Regiment," National Museum of the United States Army, accessed 6 May 2019,

From the National Museum of the United States Army website:

Throughout the rest of the Korean War, the 187th saw heavy fighting, particularly at Wonju in February 1951. In March 1951, the RCT made another airborne assault at Munsan-ni. In 1952, the 187th was withdrawn to Japan as part of the U.S. Far East Command reserve. Troops of the 187th later helped subdue POW camp riots in June 1952. For its service in Korea, the Rakkasans were awarded four unit citations, and three soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. In total, the 187th suffered 2,115 casualties in Korea, including 442 killed in action.

Operation Tomahawk was an airborne military operation by the 187th Regimental Combat Team begun on March 23, 1951, at Munsan-ni as part of Operation Courageous during the Korean War. Operation Courageous was designed to trap large numbers of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army and the Korean People's Army forces between the Han and Imjin Rivers north of Seoul, opposite the Republic of Korea I Corps. The intent of Operation Courageous was for the U.S. I Corps, composed of the U.S. 25th and 3rd Infantry Divisions and the ROK 1st Division, to advance quickly on the Chinese and North Korean forces' positions and reach the Imjin River with all possible speed.

Operation Tomahawk was the other half of the plan. This operation was designed to drop the 187th Regimental Combat Team about 30 kilometers [19 miles] north of the then current front line. They did so parachuting from over a hundred "Flying Boxcar" transport aircraft. Upon landing, they linked up with Task Force Growdon, made up of armored elements from the U.S. 24th Infantry Division's 6th Medium Tank Battalion and infantry elements from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. The forces advanced to their goal with little resistance because the Chinese and North Korean forces had already retreated.

One hundred twenty C-119s and C-46s dropped more than 3,000 paratroopers of the 187th and 12 officers and men of the 60th Indian Parachute Field Ambulance near Munsan-ni in the second largest airborne operation of the war. The 187th suffered four fatalities (three KIA and one in an accident). ("Operation Tomahawk," Wikipedia, accessed 6 May 2019, Substantial research could not identify the three, but given the dates (March 23-28, 1951), locations, and units involved, it's likely that Nason Stalnaker was one of the fatalities. Nason Stalnaker was reported to have been killed in action on March 26.

According to the Korean War Veterans' Honor Roll,

Private First Class Stalnaker was a member of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regimental Combat Team. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in South Korea on March 26, 1951. Private First Class Stalnaker was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

On October 16, 1953, Mrs. Leta Stalnaker, living in Clarksburg at the time, filed an application for a military headstone for her son. Pfc. Stalnaker's remains were returned to the U.S. later that year, and he was interred at Bridgeport Cemetery in Harrison County.
grave marker

Nason Stalnaker's military grave marker in Bridgeport Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
April 2019


Nason Dale Stalnaker

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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