Night Stalkers welcome regiment, battalion commander

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http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2010/June/100625-03.html

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (USASOC News Service, June 25, 2010) – Night Stalkers welcomed two new commanders in ceremonies held this week.

Col. John Thompson assumed command of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from Col. Clayton Hutmacher during a ceremony on June 25.

Lt. Col. Philip Ryan assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), from Lt. Col. Thomas Drew during a ceremony the day before.

Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, described change of command ceremonies as bittersweet during the regimental ceremony.

“We are saying goodbye to an extraordinary command team that has served this nation and the Regiment unbelievably well in a time when our nation has been engaged in the longest combat operations of its history,” he said.

“Regardless of conditions, regardless of circumstance, regardless of threat and peril, the Night Stalkers who fly these wonderful machines, who maintain them, sustain them, ensure they can be where they need to be plus or minus 30 seconds," said Mulholland, commenting on the commitment of every Soldier who serves in the Regiment.

Their commitment has added to the unit’s legacy and well-known reputation that Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.

He assured those in attendance that wherever our Nation has a need for unparalleled combat aviation capability it is the Night Stalkers who go.

12th Colonel of the Regiment

In front of a Night Stalker formation, Col. John Thompson accepted the regimental colors from General Mulholland and assumed command of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne).
“It is truly an honor to be back in the company of heroes,” said Thompson. “We are honored and humbled to serve with the finest officers, NCOs, Soldiers and Families our Army ever produced.”

Thompson brings a variety of special operations and aviation experience to the Regiment.

Mulholland reflected on the sacrifice, commitment and mission success that marked Colonel Hutmacher’s command tenure.

“Six straight years of command while this nation is engaged in combat is absolutely unheard of,” the general said. “Nothing speaks more about the kind of man that has been commanding this organization than that.”

Hutmacher said the past two years had been the most rewarding, demanding and tragic two years of his military career. He said he is a better man for having had the opportunity to serve among his Soldiers. And he will never forget the Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during his command and their Families.

“The Night Stalkers go about their business with little fanfare. They just do what needs to be done every night,” he told the formation of Soldiers and guests. “Your commitment to the SOF (special operations forces) we support is especially noteworthy. It is not replicated anywhere else in the SOF community.”

Dark Horse Command

A day before the regimental change of command Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), known as the Dark Horse, formed in an evening ceremony for the changing of command to Lt. Col. Philip Ryan from Lt. Col. Thomas Drew.

Ryan has served in a variety of aviation and special operations positions, including several as a Night Stalker as well as four tours at Fort Campbell.

“It is certainly not lost on me the legend that is 2nd Battalion. I’m in awe of the Dark Horse’s rich history and how each of you consistently adds to this lure on a nightly basis - like tonight - all around the world,” he said. “You are and will continue to be the force of choice to take our nation’s elite ground forces to and from the target. I’m humbled to work with you and for you.”

Drew, the departing commander, served as a Night Stalker the last 14 years.

Hutmacher, who presided over the battalion ceremony, described Drew as a fearless combat Warrior who is most comfortable in the cockpit but effective and successful in command.

“He leads from the front. He readily seeks out and shares the hardships and hazards of combat with his with men,” said Hutmacher. “He has an exceptional tactical and technical knack. He understands the fight and the enemy. He has superior judgment and he has taken this battalion to new heights.”

Drew reflected on his time in command, focusing on his Soldiers that volunteer to fight our nation’s wars and again volunteer to be a Night Stalker and their Families

“Each of you is a shining example of what is great about our country. Being part of this Dark Horse team for the past two years has truly been the honor of my life,” he said.

“You selflessly give more than your fair share for your fellow citizens. I want you to know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed,” said Drew. “You make the impossible look routine. And you do so without the desire for recognition and praise.”

He told the audience that his Soldiers endure the hardship of constant combat deployments to ensure that the battalion succeeds in every mission it is assigned.

“You men and you Families are the reason we still live in the greatest country on the planet,” concluded Drew.

The 160th SOAR(A) remains actively engaged in multiple theaters of operations around the world including Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
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