Special Operations News

Night Stalkers Recognized for Combat Action

HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA – Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), were recognized for both combat actions and garrison safety initiatives during a ceremony March 5 at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

In a rare ceremony for the highly deployed unit, 30 Night Stalkers were presented with combat awards for valor, heroism and meritorious service.

“In a fast-paced environment it is important to pause and recognize the achievements of individuals that continue to give so much to supporting combat missions,” said Lt. Col. Kirk E. Keepers, 3rd Bn. commander. “The time taken for the awards presentations was important to show the Families and local civilian supporters that our unit members consistently perform at the highest level.”

The following Soldiers were presented an Air Medal for Valor, which recognizes heroic acts of valorous deeds during combat aerial flight: Chief Warrant Officer Three Charles Gardner, Staff Sgt. Felipe Atanacio, Staff Sgt. Keith Link, Sgt. Michael Maynard and Spc. Andrew Hayes.

Additionally, seven Bronze Star Medals, 23 Air Medals and four Meritorious Service Medals were presented. Several Soldiers received multiple medals.

“Our crews did what we are trained to do,” said Maynard. “Any other crew members would have done the exact same thing.”

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, senior commander of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and 3rd Infantry Division rear Deputy Commanding General, also presented each of the battalion’s five companies with the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Alcohol Free Streamer. The streamer program is designed to recognize Soldiers for their self-discipline, teamwork and sound judgment. A company must reach the 180-day benchmark of zero incidents for driving under the influence to receive the streamer; three of the 3rd Bn. companies have surpassed the one year mark.

Command Sgt. Maj. Estevan Sotorosado, 3rd Bn. command sergeant major, attributes the unit’s success in this DUI campaign to having leaders engaged in all aspects of our Soldiers lives.

“We develop measures to prevent high-risk behaviors and develop courses of action to ensure they act safely,” he explained.

“Our Soldiers have pride in what they are doing overseas in combat and at home on a daily basis. They know that they need to be ready and prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice and cannot afford to be distracted by unprofessional behaviors.”

Night Stalkers remain continuously deployed and engaged at multiple locations in overseas contingency operations.


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