[Photos: © 2013 John M. Dibbs]
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 13, 2013) – Aircraft from 4th Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), the “Night Stalkers,” participated in a historic flyover with a B-25 Mitchell Bomber to celebrate the history and advancements in Army Aviation.
The historic flight formation, which began near Everett, Wash., included an MH-60M Blackhawk and MH-47G Chinook from 4th Bn., and a B-25 Bomber; the same type of aircraft used by the Doolittle Raiders when they were called upon in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombing in World War II.
The B-25 is a rare WWII aircraft. According to Army Maj. Gabriel M. Wolfe, commander of Company A., 4th Bn., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, there are only six airworthy B-25s today and this was a first for this type of formation.
“In 2008, the Historic Flight Foundation gained possession of this B-25,” said John T. Sessions, founder and chairman of the Historic Flight Foundation. “It was an airshow favorite in Europe for the previous 20 years.”
“We had friends in England who made it ready for flight once we purchased it,” he said while discussing the process of taking ownership of the historic aircraft. “Once it was ready, we flew it on the airshow circuit in England and around the continent. Following those flights, we began our trip back here. After several stops and 32-hours of flight, we had made it back home.”
“The Raiders trained in the northwest and we still use that same training area today,” said Wolfe. “There is still a B-25 monument at the training area and markings painted on the runway for when the Raiders would practice take-offs and landings on a simulated [aircraft carrier] deck.”
Along with sharing a training area, there are other strong similarities between the men who volunteered for the Doolittle Raiders and the Nightstalkers.
“They were excellent at long-range infiltration, and that has become a hallmark profile of the Nightstalkers,” Wolfe explained. “The Raiders, like us, also focused on the Pacific-Asian region for their main area of operations.”
Wolfe said the flight formation was important in order to ensure the battalion is continuing to build relationships with civic and volunteer organizations like the Heritage Flight Museum and the Historic Flight Foundation, because they are the ones documenting aviation history. “We are a unit who makes history and someday organizations like these will be helping to keep the memory of what we’ve done, especially over the last decade, alive.”