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NW pilots praised for unconfirmed role in bin Laden mission

The U.S. Army’s “Night Stalkers” fly specially modified Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
US Navy
Chief Intelligence Specialist Louis Fellerman
The U.S. Army’s “Night Stalkers” fly specially modified Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.

Washington state senators Wednesday praised Northwest chopper pilots for flying a celebrated mission that no one can confirm they were on. That would be the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

This much we know: Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma is home to a battalion of the U.S. Army's "Night Stalkers." That's an elite helicopter unit that flies commando and combat rescue missions.

State Senator Mike Carrell - who represents the base - doesn't have proof, but says he has "every reason to believe" the local unit is deployed and carried Navy Seal Team Six to shoot bin Laden. A retired military intelligence officer who lives near the base agrees.

But Mike Davis adds the Night Stalker pilots themselves may never tell.

"They are a very quiet unit, very quiet professionals. You would not even notice they are anything special in talking to them."

An Army spokesman in western Washington referred questions about the Night Stalkers to their headquarters at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

Fort Campbell referred questions on up to U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa. There a major would give no official confirmation of who was on the bin Laden mission.

On the Web:

160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment "Night Stalkers":

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.