Four U.S. Troops Honored at Ky. Memorial
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) _ Four soldiers killed last week in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan were remembered Wednesday as warriors, aviators and family men who represented the best the Army had to offer.
``They succeeded where lesser men failed, they proved themselves in ways that men out there who never served, never volunteered, never sacrificed, would never understand,″ said Chaplain Robert Glazener.
All four were members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, a highly secretive unit known as the ``Night Stalkers″ that flies special forces commandos behind enemy lines.
Among those killed was Chief Warrant Officer Mark O’Steen, 43, a flight instructor born in Wytheville, Va., who flew one of the first special forces helicopters into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The other three were Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Gibbons, 31, a pilot from Cheverly, Md., and maintenance crewmen Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Kisling Jr., 31, of Neosho, Mo., and Staff Sgt. Gregory M. Frampton, 37, of Fresno, Calif.
Combined, the men had logged more than 7,000 hours in flight.
Desert combat boots along with dogtags, night vision goggles and rifles were displayed on a podium next to photos of the men. A Night Stalker’s crest was hung behind with the words, ``Death waits in the dark.″
Each soldier’s name was called out three times during a customary roll call. With no reply the third time, the announcer said, ``Killed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 30th of January 2003.″
``They are the true American heroes today and deserve more honor than we can humbly bestow on them,″ Glazener said.
The helicopter carrying the men went down Thursday night east of the Bagram Air Base while on a training mission. The cause remains under investigation.
O’Steen, who entered the Army as a linguist before attending officer’s flight school, was described as a patient teacher and mild-mannered man devoted to his wife and three children. He was a three-time veteran in Afghanistan.
Gibbons was remembered as having a firm handshake and warm smile, who liked the outdoors and who ``treated his wife like a lady″ and loved his two daughters. He was also a veteran of the Persian Gulf War.
Kisling, married with three children, was eulogized as a fun-loving guy who pushed the Army’s haircut and mustache regulations, but was so good at his job he was a ``crew chief poster child.″
Frampton, who was married, was remembered as a carpenter with a big heart who frequently helped at others’ houses, a perfectionist who volunteered for tasks others did not want to do.
Nine other Night Stalkers have died in America’s war on terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
One died March 4 in a battle Afghanistan. The others were killed Feb. 22 when their helicopter crashed during counterterrorism exercises with Philippine troops.