As the sun rose on Sept. 14, 2011, an urgent call went out for a casualty evacuation. A Navy explosive ordnance technician supporting special operations forces in Afghanistan had stepped on an improvised explosive device in an area rife with enemy activity.
The men of the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) “thought their mission was complete, but lived by the mantra of the Night Stalkers: Don’t quit,” said Lt. Col. William T. Golden, commander of the 3rd Battalion.
Within two minutes of hearing the call, Golden said, he got a call from the air mission commander. The soldiers were ready to rescue the sailor and could be there in just a few minutes.
“And so began a mission that, to save the life of one, would put the lives of 13 at risk,” Golden said at a ceremony to honor the soldiers involved. “All would say they were simply doing their jobs. All would say, ‘I don’t deserve it.’ ”
Sgt. Aaron L. Green, 23, of Cresaptown, Md., was a crew chief on a MH-47 special operations Chinook helicopter that day. On Feb. 22, he and three other soldiers were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroism, “technical and tactical expertise, outstanding leadership and airmanship.”
Green can’t talk much about the mission because the details are classified, but he said he remembers thinking, “I hope we can get there in time.”
Green has deployed several times, but this mission was memorable because they were able to rescue the EOD tech.
“Anytime you save somebody’s life, it will definitely stand out,” he said.
When he learned he would receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, he said, “I felt honored, definitely honored, but it’s something any of us would have done.”
Green joined the Army after high school because, he said, there wasn’t much to do in his hometown. He was chosen straight out of training for the Night Stalkers and said he was drawn in by the idea of being a part of “the best of the best.”
Teamwork was a key factor in the mission that saved the sailor, he said — evidenced by the fact that four soldiers were awarded the Silver Star and four received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their actions that day.
That teamwork and feeling of brotherhood are there every day, Green said.
“The brotherhood is amazing,” he said. “Everybody watches out for everyone’s backs. It’s like we’re part of a family.”