Monday, December 22, 2008

Flashback: Night Stalkers Don't Quit!

This post will be long, as it is just for my own memories. ..It is not Spiritually Scripted, which means that conventional punctuation and capitalization will be used throughout.

I spent Saturday, December 20 in Savannah, Georgia, where I was stationed in 1991-1992. ..Savannah has a beautiful downtown historic district, and a river-walk area that explodes with life on St. Paddy’s Day.

Savannah’s Hunter Army Airfield is the home of the 3/160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion (Night Stalkers) whose classified missions and military accomplishments are, for the most part, “top secret” in nature.

As the Administration Officer for the Night Stalkers, I didn’t fly that much. ..My year was spent writing and processing awards (Purple Hearts, Air Medals, etc.) for the heroism displayed by the 3/160th servicemen during the first Gulf War. ..Our pilots were the best in the world, and our unit was awarded “Army Aviation Unit of the Year” that year.

As the best rotary-wing aviation unit in the United States Army, it’s pretty much a given that you are the best in the world. ..My experience was that these guys were second-to-none, and the standards are likely to be just as high today as they were almost 20 years ago.

The mission was to conduct worldwide, covert operations by flying specially-equipped helicopters (under cover of darkness), using state-of-the-art night-vision technology.

Our commander (Jamie Cerniglia) was a typical Special Foces party-animal: dedicated, fit, fun, intelligent and half-crazy. ..With a sparkle in his eye, he would devise plans and schemes that kept the rest of us in a constant state of readiness.

His second-in-command (Jim Casey) was the Executive Officer who took Jamie’s visions and figured out how to turn them into reality. ..Jim, like Jamie, was (literally) the best of the best. ..Our unit had too many heroes to mention (here), but my buddy (Andy Cayton) exemplified the typical Special Operations helicopter pilot – courageous, talented, funny, rebellious, and ready to risk his life with a moment’s notice.

Nowadays, I’m so removed from the military lifestyle that I forget the kind of mentality that defines the American soldier. ..You can be pro-peace, yet still support the young men and women who would give their lives for a cause that they believe in.

Below is the Night Stalker Creed, which provides some insight into the mindset of the type of person who is out there, right now, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Night Stalker Creed
-author unknown

Service in the 160th is a calling that only a few will answer, for the mission is constantly demanding and hard. ..When the impossible has been accomplished, the only reward is another mission that no one else will try.

As a member of the Night Stalkers, I am a tested volunteer seeking only to safeguard the honor and prestige of my country by serving as an elite Special Forces soldier of the United States. ..I pledge to maintain my body, mind, and equipment in a constant state of readiness, for I am a member of the fastest deployable Task Force in the world, ready to move at a moment’s notice anytime, anywhere, arriving on target in plus or minus 30 seconds.

I guard my unit’s mission with secrecy, for my only true ally is the night and the element of surprise. ..My manner is that of the Special Operations Quiet Professional, and secrecy is a way of life.

In battle, I eagerly meet the enemy for I have volunteered to be up front where the fighting is hard. ..I fear no foe’s ability, nor do I underestimate his will to fight.

The mission and my precious cargo is my concern. ..I will never surrender. ..I will never leave a fallen comrade behind to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Gladly will I show the world and the elite forces that I support that a Night Stalker is a specially selected and well-trained soldier.

I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me, for they loved to fight, fought to win, and would rather die than quit.

“But God knows the way I take,
and when he has tested me,
I will come out as gold.”
-Job, 23:10

......................................................Night Stalkers Don’t Quit!


The pictures (below) were taken in the Hunter Army Airfield Officer’s Club, where I attended my final military function. More to follow, later.

below: lenny exits the army (1992), as jamie makes the presentation at the officer's club.

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