Community Rallies Around Families of Fallen Night Stalkers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/06/05

Community Rallies Around Families of Fallen Night Stalkers

Members of the Night Stalkers during training. Members of the Night Stalkers during training.

Our hearts and thoughts are with the families of some of the best-trained soldiers in the world, who were sadly killed in the Middle East. Sixteen special forces troops were killed when a chopper was shot down in Afghanistan. Eight of them were part of the elite Night Stalkers regiment stationed in Savannah.

One thing families have learned is they're not alone. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment has always been a close-knit group, and one thing they've made sure of is that the Night Stalkers remain a family, no matter what the circumstances.

They've trained for some of the most dangerous missions around, but that doesn't make it any easier when they're killed in action.

"They've nicknamed me Sgt. Mom, so it's really hard," said Linda Rogers, secretary for the 160th at Hunter Army Airfield, and a coordinator for the Night Stalker Association, which collects donations to help out families of fallen soldiers. Since the casualties last week, she's been a lot busier.

"They seem to just come out of the woodwork," Rogers said. "When there's a need, the people are there."

Just as important as the outside help is the inner circle. The regiment's always been tight, and the Night Stalkers have always looked after their own.

That feeling of family among the Night Stalkers isn't anything new. It's something that goes back a full 24 years.

"To meet someone whose soldier passed several years ago gives them hope, lets them know they could survive it, they could get through this," said family programs coordinator Becky Chambers.

Chambers says it's just as cathartic for the families of Night Stalkers who died years ago to see they can help out the people just now going through it. "The mutual aid there is just amazing."

Chambers says a Night Stalker reunion just a couple months ago was the biggest ever, and hopes that support carries through, past Thursday's memorial service.

People who'd like to help the Night Stalker Association can send donations to:

Night Stalker Association
3/160 SOAR
1304 North Lightning Road
Hunter Army Air Field, GA 31409-4719

We'll be covering tomorrow's memorial service, but the 160th is respectfully asking people to understand that it's not open to the public.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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