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jasonglh
05-27-2005, 12:57
Article published May 27, 2005

Night Stalker families honor 61 absent members

By AMY RITCHART
The Leaf-Chronicle

In unmistakable Night Stalker fashion, hundreds of 160th Special Operations soldiers and family members gathered Thursday to honor 61 who have died since the unit's inception in 1980.

The memorial ceremony, which is planned each year in conjunction with the Week of Night Stalker activities, is a time when family members of soldiers killed in the line of duty can renew their connection to the unit, said Janet Egnor, wife of Chief Warrant Officer Jody L. Egnor, who was killed Feb. 22, 2002, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during Operation Enduring Freedom in the Philippines.

"I come to this memorial every year," she said. "We are a very close-knit family, and we want to keep it that way."

Week of Night Stalker this year coincides with the 101st Airborne Division's Week of the Eagles, although the two events are not associated.

As part of the 160th ceremony, a weather planning building located at the Fort Campbell compound was named for Egnor an honor his family took to heart.

"There's not any greater honor that a man can do for his country," said Roger Egnor, Jody Egnor's father, of Middletown, Ohio. "If this nation just realized what this group of men and women do every day. ..."

Thursday's ceremony was only the second event Margaret Egnor, Jody Egnor's mother, has attended since her son's death.

"It's just as hard as it was the day they brought me down here when he died," she said. But, "there's part of Jody here today."

Janet Egnor wishes all the soldiers on her husband's team could share in the honor of the building dedication.

"They were a team," she said. "They flew together. They all went down together. They loved each other."

Those honored
The annual Memorial Ceremony and Building Dedication highlighted a group of seven soldiers who were selected as namesakes for 160th compound buildings and areas.

The soldiers join many others as all the permanent structures at the Fort Campbell compound are named for fallen Night Stalkers, said 160th spokeswoman Kelly Tyler.

The Special Operations Training Battalion bunker also was dedicated in honor of the four-man crew of Black Hawk 185, which crashed Jan. 30, 2003, near Bagram, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Memorial plaques for the building named for Chief Warrant Officer Mark S. O'Steen, Chief Warrant Officer Thomas J. Gibbons, Staff Sgt. Daniel Kisling Jr. and Staff Sgt. Gregory Frampton were unveiled at the ceremony.

Night Stalker families don't quit
Col. Andrew Milani, regimental commander, urged those attending to tell the families of fallen soldiers how much their soldiers meant as co-workers and as friends.

"I'm asking you to do this because just as Night Stalkers don't quit, the families of fallen Night Stalkers don't quit either they don't quit missing their Night Stalkers, they don't quit loving them, and they don't quit hurting," Milani said.

"I believe that Night Stalkers are much more effective on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan because of their belief in the Almighty, and also because of the way our unit and friends of the SOF (special operations) community embrace the families of our fallen."

And though no new Night Stalkers were added to the memorial wall this year, Milani said the 160th continues to bear a heavy commitment in the "war against terrorism."

"Never before have we suffered as many losses in one campaign a campaign that continues," he said. "Fourteen Night Stalkers have died since 9/11 their names are amongst the 61 whose names adorn the wall behind me.

"And today, we demonstrate that we will not forget these men who have given their lives."