One of the hallmarks of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) – 160th SOAR(A) – AKA “The Night Stalkers,” is that they rarely fly during the day. One of the most secretive of all American special operations units, the 160th flies during daylight hours only in extreme circumstances. One of these times was during the attempted insert of a quick reaction force of SEALs during Operation Red Wings. Turbine 33, an MH-47D Special Operations Aircraft, sped toward the high slopes of Sawtalo Sar on the afternoon of 28 June, 2005. The helicopter was shot down by a lucky rocket propelled grenade, killing everyone on board. Eight Night Stalkers and eight Navy SEALs died that moment, the worst single incident and loss of life of Americans in the war in Afghanistan, and in the history of U.S. Special Operations Command and the modern U.S. Navy SEALs. That terrible record would be broken with the downing of Extortion 17.
I learned of one other time the Night Stalkers flew during the day during my research for “The Final Mission of Extortion 17.” This flight occurred in the daylight hours of 6 August, 2011, when three Night Stalker MH-47 Special Operations Aircraft flew into the Tangi Valley to retrieve the remains of those lost on Extortion 17. Below you can see helmet cam footage taken of them making their landing approach. This is the only known footage of the 160th flying during the day in Afghanistan.