A stronger Regiment


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice
The Best just became stronger


Col. Kevin Mangum, Commander, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, unviels the 4th Battalion, 160th SOAR, colors for the first time during the unit's activation ceremony on Dec. 6 at Fort Lewis, Wash. (Photo by Kimberly T. Laudano, 160th SOAR Public Affairs)
FORT LEWIS, Wash. – The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment history grew by another chapter as new battalion colors were unveiled with the activation of their 4th Battalion during a ceremony at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Dec. 6.

Nearly two years ago to the date, the regiment held a ceremony at its headquarters on Fort Campbell, Ky., recognizing the beginning of a provisional 4th Bn. With the battalion’s activation, the unit is now a permanent part of the organization.

“We all looked forward, with great anticipation, to the promise of a new unit in our regiment,” reflected Col. Kevin Mangum, Commander, 160th SOAR. “That unit would test and field our newest aircraft, establish a presence on the West Coast, focus on the Pacific Command area of responsibility, and build capacity to allow us to provide more support to more special operations forces more often. We all had high hopes and waited with great anticipation to see what this unit would become.”

From 2005 to today, the Fort Lewis based battalion has grown from 137 Soldiers to about 400. The unit organization has also grown to five companies: two Chinook heavy assault helicopter companies, one Black Hawk medium assault helicopter company, and a maintenance and headquarters company. The Black Hawks should begin arriving at Fort Lewis in summer 2008.

Mangum had high accolades for his Soldiers. He describes them as a high performing, cohesive, combat ready team, as ready as any other Night Stalker formation to prove they are the very best helicopter unit on the toughest battlefields on the planet.

“This amazing transformation from a few to many, from an idea to a fighting force, from a gaggle to a team, required back breaking effort on the part of many and the tireless leadership of a cadre of committed leaders,” he said.

One of those leaders is Lt. Col. James Dugan, 4th Bn. Commander, who lead the unit through initial stand up, moving across the country from Ft. Campbell to Ft. Lewis, executing training, testing the regiment’s new MH-47G Chinook helicopters and executing the battalion’s first combat deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom earlier this year. And during this ceremony, he accepted the battalion colors from Mangum.

“Today’s activation recognizes and validates the tremendous accomplishments of the officers and Soldiers who stand before and around you today,” Dugan told his Soldiers and those in attendance. He specifically recognized the Night Stalkers who are the plank holders of this organization and therefore responsible for its success.

“It has been and will continue to be their selfless efforts in creating separate companies, establishing procedures, ordering and receiving equipment, emplacing facilities in two locations, and conducting a unit move that have made a provisional battalion permanent,” he explained.

Dugan said that most impressively, all of this was achieved during war time when the focus is on the fight and resources are short. But in accordance with the unit’s creed, his Night Stalkers didn’t quit.

“As we proved to our nation’s enemies this past summer, and as this ceremony formally recognizes today, 4th Bn. is in the fight and we are here to stay,” Dugan proclaimed.

Mangum agrees, saying that this unit sets the standard in everything it does.

“I sincerely believe these guys don’t realize or appreciate how good they really are,” he told the audience. “In a number of different venues, on and off of the battlefield, they have demonstrated they are as good or better than any other unit in the regiment. So when you are as good as, or better than, the very best, you are very good indeed.”

Mangum reminded his Soldiers to keep focused on excellence in the days, months and years ahead.

“While you are a battle hardened unit, you still have much promise to fulfill as you grow B Company and we add Blackhawks to your formation next summer,” he challenged them. “Continue to set, enforce and demand high standards. Strive to establish a unit identity that is fiercely independent and committed to excellence - accept nothing less.”