Night Stalkers recognized at annual awards ceremony


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Sine Pari, June 4, 2008) – The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) recognized the contributions of Soldiers, Civilians and Family members who distinguished themselves over the past 12 months during their annual Night Stalker Award Ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22.

Each year, the Night Stalker Association facilitates a nomination process to recognize the person who contributed most in eight categories. Nominations represent each element of the 160th SOAR.

“These individuals were selected from a deep pool of nominations,” said NSA President Herb Rodriguez. “As one of the (award) presenters put it, these are ‘the best of the best.’ The awardees set the standard that others may strive to achieve and exceed.”

Rodriguez said Night Stalkers do not just focus on doing their job, but also ensuring that the mission is accomplished, whether it is combat, administrative or family readiness.

“The awardees exemplify this value and represent what the unit considers the standard of excellence,” he said.

This year’s recipients are:

Aviator of the Year: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ross Childs
Childs’ narration describes him as a skilled aviator, trainer, leader and warfighter. As an assault and direct action penetrator flight lead, he sets the standard as a pilot and as a leader throughout the 160th SOAR. Childs is a complete professional; calm and collective, both on the ground while planning in-depth missions and in the air while engaging the enemy on foreign soil. A proactive leader, he reaches out to junior pilots and Soldiers, ensuring that they are trained to the highest level. Above all, he is described as being devoted to the well-being of 160th Soldiers and their Families.


Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ross Childs, Night Stalker Aviator of the Year, accepts a plaque from Raymond Haddad during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Officer of the Year: Maj. Rob Sketch
Sketch, the regiment human resources officer, was recognized for masterfully increasing manning in this highly selective organization during the most tumultuous recruiting environment in recent history. His citation states that his tireless efforts to bring in Night Stalker-quality pilots to sustain the fight could be deemed one of the most combat enabling events of the year. He has developed a time-efficient program to get pilots in aircraft and into the fight. Sketch has also successfully managed to rapidly process a volume of awards never before seen in the regiment.


Maj. Rob Sketch, Night Stalker Officer of the Year, accepts a plaque from retired Brigadier General Rodney D. Wolfe during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Civilian of the Year: Mr. Steve Blasey
Blasey is the civilian lead for all Regimental Aviation Maintenance Office long-term maintenance process improvement projects. His efforts directly resulted in millions of dollars of cost savings this year and for years to come through integration of new technology and by capitalizing on Army and other Department of Defense aviation maintenance programs. Over the past year, he personally led the stand-up of the Unique Identifier parts marking and tracking program, stood up the regiment’s common vibration analysis and preventive maintenance tools solution and the regiment’s Digitally Integrated Maintenance Environment.


Mr. Steve Blasey, Night Stalker Civilian of the Year, accepts a plaque from Ken Asbury during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Volunteer of the Year: Ms. Patricia “Trish” Keenan
Keenan was recognized for outstanding service as a company Family Readiness Group leader. With a bachelor as the company commander, Keenan willingly volunteered for this position and has taken the reigns of the FRG with gusto. In doing so, she has adopted every one of the unit wives and single Soldiers. The citation further states that Keenan is absolutely unfaltering and her efforts over the course of the past year have been unparalleled. She impacts the lives of our Soldiers, their spouses, their kids and their neighbors. An asset to any organization or committee, she is one of the pillars of strength for the regiment.


Ms. Patricia "Trish" Keenan, Night Stalker Volunteer of the Year, accepts a plaque from Steve Walters during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Aviation Mechanic of the Year: Spc. Christopher Braman
Braman has proven his knowledge and technical expertise countless times and continuously strives to better himself towards becoming the most skilled and qualified medium helicopter mechanic in the U.S. Army. He possesses an infectious “can do” attitude toward maintenance and the mission which has made an extremely positive impact on the morale of the entire platoon and company. He has played a very integral and active role in the leading, training and mentoring of the many Soldiers in his squad and platoon. The citation further states that Braman has spent countless hours striving to set the best example not only for his subordinates, but for his peers and superiors alike. He is an invaluable asset, continuing to excel at every challenge, and has developed into the definition of a Special Operations Aviation Warrior.


Spc. Christopher Braman, Night Stalker Aviation Mechanic of the Year, accepts a plaque from Joseph E. Becker during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Ground Mechanic of the Year: Sgt. Frank Avila
Avila’s award citation describes his performance as a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer and the foreman of the regiment’s engineer shop as stellar for the last year. He is responsible for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on 88 pieces of power generation equipment, 60 air conditioners and 52 pieces of various quartermaster equipment. He and his Soldiers have performed over 200 services in the past year, despite deployments and range time. Avila was also instrumental in cross-training all his personnel on the various pieces of equipment within the shop. The citation further states that Avila is very well respected by his subordinates and peers alike and he can be called on at anytime to perform not only his assigned job but all maintenance-oriented tasks within the motor pool.


Sgt. Frank Avila, Night Stalker Ground Mechanic of the Year, accepts a plaque from Greg Cole during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Non-Rated Crew-Member of the Year: Sgt. Joshua Hinch
Hinch was deployed for five months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a fully mission-qualified crewmember, during which he participated in 45 direct action air assault missions. According to his citation, Hinch demonstrated valor while under enemy fire. He has been wounded in combat, and still readily volunteered for the next difficult mission. While at home station, Hinch routinely volunteered for deployments to help lower the deployment tempo of his fellow teammates. Despite the high operation tempo, multiple deployments and little time at home, his citation states that Hinch remains a motivated and disciplined Special Operations Warrior.


Sgt. Joshua Hinch, Night Stalker Non-Rated Crew-Member of the Year, following a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Avionics Maintainer of the Year: Spc. Christopher Csorba
Csorba has made a significant impact on the operational readiness of avionics and Aircraft Survivability Equipment systems required in combat. His unparalleled dedication to the 160th mission has been a driving force in the exceptional maintenance and survivability record within the regiment. He has been an undeniable example of determination and initiative, which has served to ensure that the entire U.S. Army has remained fully mission capable. During his tenure his technical skills have far exceeded those of his peers and he continues to be a leader to which other Soldiers turn. The citation also states that Csorba has been integral to the battalion’s exceptional operational readiness of ASE systems both in training and combat environments. He has endeavored to train the constant influx of junior Soldiers by providing them with initial and sustainment training based on his experience and exceptional. Csorba has proven to be a dynamic and positive influence in the operational readiness of the entire fleet with his focus on communication suites and communication security repairs.


Spc. Christopher Csorba, Night Stalker Avionics Maintainer of the Year, following a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

160th Non-Commission Officer and Soldier of the Year
Also recognized during this year’s ceremony were Sgt. Renster B. Joel, the 160th NCO of the Year, and Spc. Todd A. Gilger, the 160th Soldier of the Year. Their titles were announced following completion of a rigorous unit competition in May 2008.


Sgt. Renster B. Joel, 160th Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, accepts a plaque from Thomas Cole during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)

Spc. Todd A. Gilger, 160th Soldier of the Year, following a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on May 22. (160th Photo)