D Co. retired into Night Stalker history

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HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. (USASOC News Service, April 30, 2008) – D Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), was officially de-activated in a ceremony on April 24, 2008, at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

“You, Gentlemen, are the mold that we break today,” said Maj. Chad Chasteen, the last D. Co. commander, to his company formation. “You represent the 21-year lineage of this outstanding organization and you represented it well. There is simply none better.”

Lt. Col. Walter Rugen, 3rd Bn. commander and former D Co. commander, reflected on the “Raiders” contribution to the 160th and the special operations mission.

“This team was born and thrived in Panama and that tradition carried on in Puerto Rico and is the embodiment of what we in our community are always trying to attain: that of a pure habitual relationship born of training, living, sleeping, eating and fighting,” he said.
“This is what cannot and will not be cased or drawn down as D/160 goes.”

The company began as the 617th Aviation Detachment Special Operations (Airborne) on June 21, 1987, at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. The unit was comprised of former elements of Task Force 160, the 129th Special Operations Aviation Company, Special Forces Group Flight Detachments and volunteers from the 1st Bn., 228th Aviation Regiment.

On July 27, 1994, the detachment was re-designated D Co., 160th SOAR. The company was the first forward-based Army Special Operations Aviation unit, pioneering the way for overseas organizations. As mission requirements changed over the years, D Co. flexed to meet the demand. The company was re-located to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, in 1999 and then moved to Hunter Army Airfield and 3rd Bn, 160th SOAR in 2003. D Co., 3rd Bn., had a dual mission supporting both U.S. Southern and Central commands during its last five years.

During this time, the Night Stalkers of D Co. supported special operations ground forces form 3rd Special Forces Group and the Navy SEALS in Central and South America. They also simultaneously supported U.S. Central Command over the past several years deploying in support of operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

“We deactivate today while some members of our company are deployed to combat and others are preparing to leave,” Chasteen told his men. “A small formation is a fitting tribute to your incredible OPTEMPO (operations tempo) and continuous commitment to the good fight. I am proud to say that I fought with you.”

The company was de-activated as part of the overall 160th transformation plan, which will re-organize 3rd Bn. to meet the Regiment’s overall growth and mission focused structure. Rugen said that transformation is painful, but there is much to be gained as well.

“When we look back years from now, we will realize that as a Regiment we had the fortitude, foresight and courage to change,” he reflected. “We will see the D/160th legacy, its team of teams re-created multiple times over in new formations."

Chasteen reminded the audience that Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) is not losing their aviation fighting force, rather gaining a more focused group of Warriors to continue executing the mission.

“We look forward to continuing the old relationship (with SOCSOUTH) under a new name,” he said. “(The commander of) SOCSOUTH didn’t lose D Co. today; he gained Charlie 3 (C Co., 3rd Bn.).”

Every Soldier from D Co. will remain a Night Stalker. Some will make a short move to C Co., 3rd Bn., whose 3rd platoon will now solely handle the SOCSOUTH aviation mission. Others will fill vital evolving roles in 4th Bn. at Fort Lewis, Wash.

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HiRes
1st Sgt. James Schley (left) and Maj. Chad Chasteen (right), the final D Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) command team, prepare to case the company guidon during the de-action ceremony on April 24, 2008, at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Photo)

http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2008/April/080430-02.html
 
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