The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) was able to do something June 2 it hadn’t done in three years – invite guests to its annual memorial ceremony.
Several hundred guests gathered on the Gen. Bryan D. Brown Compound to pay tribute to those the unit has lost over its 41-year history.
The ceremony was held in front of the Night Stalker Memorial Wall, where 99 names are inscribed to memorialize those lost while performing official duties deployed or while conducting training.
“This memorial wall is the earthly depiction of our Valhalla. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a place where warriors gather after their earthly fight is finished,” said Col. Andrew Graham, the 17th Colonel of the 160th SOAR.
Attendees included Families of the fallen, current and former Night Stalkers, and distinguished visitors including Congressman Mark Green and Jack Turner, Bill Harpel, Kelli Pendleton, and Ralph Schulz, all civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army.
“When warriors, and those who love them, demonstrate that they remember those who are gone, it is a physical manifestation of the bond that we believe transcends death and provides respite in heaven. So, we remember,” Graham said.
The names of the fallen were read out loud, including an additional 48 who have died of various causes while assigned to the unit.
“Our creed begins with the words ‘service in the 160th is a calling only a few will answer,’ and that is because the cost of freedom is high,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kitchens, the senior enlisted leader of 160th SOAR. “The cost is paid with the blood of our young patriots. While history often forgets the blood, it doesn’t forget the names of the brave heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life.”
After the names were read, Families of the fallen were invited to lay flowers on the memorial in remembrance of their loved ones.
“We understand that our calling involves risk, and we can be certain that in the years to come we will add the names of other warriors,” Graham said. “The Night Stalkers of today accept this, for they know that in this ever more dangerous world the mission is constantly demanding and hard. And they know, that when the most difficult fight exacts its cost, that those left behind will continue the mission, keep the faith, and they will remember.”