About Families of Fallen Night Stalkers

Mission Statement of Families of Fallen Night Stalkers

The mission of the Families of Fallen Night Stalkers organization is to provide support to all immediate family members to include spouses and children, mothers, fathers, and siblings of the fallen soldier. This includes facilitating informal counseling sessions, updates to benefits and legislative issues, and to serve as an informal conduit between the Families of Fallen Night Stalkers and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The organization serves as a family support network to further the growth of the family while maintaining the memory of the fallen.

History of Families of Fallen Night Stalkers

In the early days of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Unit), Black Hawk Helicopter used by the Nighstalkers of the 160th keeping families informed about operational deployments was restricted due to the classified nature of the unit and the special operations community. The uniqueness of the Unit fostered strong bonds amongst its members. That camaraderie did not dissipate when a soldier died in support of the Unit’s mission. Those relationships carried over to the families of our fallen and continue to strengthen today. It was not until 1993 and the losses in Somalia that more services were offered to the families and an increased emphasis was placed on supporting their needs. Dr. Tony Franklin, the Unit Psychologist at the time, brought together the widows of that mission for informal group discussions that proved helpful in our recovery. Participation was later extended to other local Night Stalker widows who were still dealing with issues from their losses. Over time gatherings became less frequent being held only when there was another fatality in the Unit or for a specific purpose.

In 1995, the Unit brought the widows, key Unit personnel, and soldiers who had assisted in various aspects of a casualty incident together to provide input for a military first – an official video about casualty notification and how to deal with grieving families. The video was initially created for the Unit to teach commanders, soldiers, and families about the casualty notification program. The video was considered such an important training tool that it was selected by the US Army for inclusion in the Pre-Command Course at Fort Leavenworth, KS, to train future Army commanders.

Over time and with changes in mission tempo brought on by 9/11, active unit support waned – but dedication to the families never diminished. In September 2004, a new emphasis was placed on providing support to the families of fallen Night Stalkers. That month, the Regimental Commander invited fallen Night Stalker families to participate in a round table discussion of what the unit could do to better assist families following the death of a loved one and how to support them in retaining their relationship with the Unit. This goal was the Unit’s way of maintaining its promise to its soldiers to always be there for the families and to assist them in whatever way it could. This meeting was followed by another during the Week of the Night Stalkers Association (WONSA) the following May, 2005. At that meeting, the first open discussions about a private organization began. The organization would be unique in that it membership would include only family members of fallen Night Stalkers and be dedicated to sustaining the memory of all fallen Night Stalkers and the support of their families. The “Families of Fallen Night Stalkers” was born with an overarching charter to assist the families of the fallen and to advise the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment about issues impacting these families.

In November, 2007, the organization became official with election and induction of the first board of directors. The organization will help members stay in touch with one another, keep them informed of changes in benefits and legislation that could affect them, bring them together annually to join in a memorial to the lost, and be there to help others who may be required to join this organization to which none of us wanted to belong.

We, the Families, are eternally grateful to the Unit, the Night Stalkers Association, and many other private organizations, businesses, and individuals for the help and support that have gotten us to this point.

Night Stalkers -- The call sign for an Army aviation unit organized in 1981 to provide aviation support for Special Operations units. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR) is based at Fort Campbell, KY, and is comprised of highly skilled and trained men and women dedicated to serving, supporting, and defending our nation. Most of the activities of this organization are highly dangerous and classified. Since its inception the unit has lost XXXX soldiers in the line of duty.