The Fort Campbell Courier

160th honors its own

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Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2006 12:00 am

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, paid tribute May 25 to its fallen Soldiers who lost their lives in the global war on terror during the past year.

The solemn ceremony, conducted in front of the regiment's headquarters building, was attended by approximately 400 people, including Soldiers, family members, friends, fellow Night Stalkers and citizens from surrounding communities.

"This is a time to remember these Night Stalkers who made the ultimate sacrifice and to tell the tales of their lives," said 160th Commander Col. Kevin Mangum. "We are blessed to have had such brave men in our ranks, along with all of these others standing here today."

Those fallen Soldiers honored during the ceremony were Maj. Matthew Worrell, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jamie Weeks, Maj. Stephen Reich, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chris Scherkenbach, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Corey Goodnature, Master Sgt. James "Tre" Ponder III, Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Russell, Staff Sgt. Shamus Goare and Sgt. Kip Jacoby.

Worrell and Weeks were killed in Iraq May 14 when their AH-6M helicopter was shot down by enemy fire during combat operations.

Reich, Scherkenback, Goodnature, Ponder, Muralles, Russell, Goare and Jacoby were killed in eastern Afghanistan June 28, 2005 as a result of their MH-47E helicopter being shot down by enemy fire during combat operations.

Following Mangum's remarks and a memorial prayer, family members of the fallen Night Stalkers unveiled the regimental memorial wall revealing their loved ones names now engraved in the granite surface.

The children of the fallen Soldiers laid white roses at the wall as the words of God Bless America floated through the warm morning air.

An American flag made of red, white and blue flowers was also placed at the site to honor all fallen Night Stalkers memorialized there.

One former Night Stalker in attendance to pay his respects was retired Lt. Col. Emmett Shaffer.

"This is always tough for the Night Stalkers," Shaffer said. "But these ceremonies are done very well, and it is a fitting tribute to these brave men."

Once family members returned to their seats, AH-6 and MH-47 helicopters belonging to the 160th performed a 'Missing Man' fly-by to honor their fallen comrades.

The ceremony concluded with a ceremonial rifle firing and the playing of Taps.

Leslie Ponder, surviving spouse of Tre Ponder, attended the ceremony with their two daughters Samantha and Elizabeth to honor Tre's life and memory.

"The girls liked taking the roses up to the memorial, and they placed them in the shape of a 'T' to honor their daddy," Leslie Ponder said. "The 160th does a really good job with the way they honor their fallen and continue to take care of the Gold Star wives."

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