FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky — An overflow crowd of several hundred soldiers and their families remembered eight members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment yesterday during a solemn memorial service.
The men perished at sea last week when an MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a training mission off the coast of the Philippines.
The eight were members of the elite unit called the Night Stalkers, so named because their specialty is flying at night with the aid of night vision goggles.
”They represented all that was good in life and the tremendous cost of enduring our freedom,” Major Dean Heithamp, acting commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, said at the morning service, which included eulogies for each of the dead Fort Campbell soldiers.
On a stage, dark-green flight helmets with night vision goggles attached were perched on top of assault rifles. On the floor next to the rifles were black combat boots, one pair to honor each soldier.
A 21-gun salute and taps by a bugler from the 101st Airborne Division band followed the ceremony at Fort Campbell's Dreyer Field House.
The Chinook, a long-distance, heavy-lift helicopter, crashed off Negros Island in the southern Philippines during a training mission.
The soldiers were part of a 660-member American force training Philippine soldiers to fight Muslim extremist guerrillas. The 160th SOAR, which provides aviation support for Army Special Forces units, is featured in the new film Black Hawk Down.
Three of the bodies have been recovered.
Night Stalkers lost in the crash were Sergeant Jeremy D. Foshee, 25, of Alabama; Major Curtis D. Feistner, 34, of South Dakota; Captain Bartt D. Owens, 30, of Ohio; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jody L. Egnor, 32, of Ohio; Staff Sergeant James P. Dorrity, 37, of Goldsboro, North Carolina; Staff Sergeant Kerry W. Frith, 37, of Jamesville, Nevada; Staff Sergeant Bruce A. Rushforth Jr., 35, of Massachusetts; and Specialist Thomas F. Allison, 22, of Tacoma, Washington. Two Air Force crewmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group based at Kadena Air Base in Japan, also died in the crash.
Sergeant James Paul Dorrity was killed in the crash of his MH-47, during anti-terrorism training exercises in the Philippines, on February 22, 2002. The entire crew of eight and two Air Force personnel was lost in the crash.
Staff Sergeant J. Paul Dorrity is a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina. He enlisted in the Army in 1986 as a Medium Helicopter Repairman (67U). He attended Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Dix and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Eustis, Virginia. His Military education includes the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC), Basic Non-Commissioned Offices Course (BNCOC), and the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Course (SERE).
Staff Sergeant Dorrity’s past assignment include 243rd Aviation Regiment and Charlie Company, 214th Aviation Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington. Alpha Company, 3/501st Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea; Echo Company, 502ndAviation Regiment, Italy and Alpha Company, 7/101st Aviation Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
In 1999, Staff Sergeant Dorrity was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Training Company (SOATC) and upon completion of the Basic Mission Qualification Course (Green Platoon) was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). In July 2001, Staff Sergeant Dorrity was assigned to Echo Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) as a Flight Engineer. He deployed with his unit to multiple locations across the Pacific Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
US Army Photo & Biography
Staff Sgt. James Paul Dorrity, 37, of Echo Co., also leaves a young family fatherless. Dorrity’s cousin, Ken Dorrity, said his cousin was called Paul, and was married with two children.
Ken Dorrity described his cousin as “full of life.” They talked on the telephone the day after Christmas, he said. The soldier gave no indication he was going to be involved in the war on terrorism.
“I told him we appreciate and were praying for him,” Ken Dorrity said. “He thanked me for it and said he didn’t mind having people pray for him.”
Dorrity’s father was in the military, his cousin said, so Paul moved around a lot as a youth. But he always came back to the family home in North Carolina for family reunions and gatherings.
DORRITY, JAMES P
SSG US ARMY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 10/26/1986 – 02/22/2002
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/12/1964
DATE OF DEATH: 02/22/2002
DATE OF INTERMENT: 03/08/2002
BURIED AT: SECTION 69 SITE 4690
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard