Night Stalkers Don’t Quit

For starters, thank you guys for executing such a unique yet relatable podcast. The stories and guests you have on the show are constant reminders that I’m not the only one facing adversity or hardships. I couldn’t be happier to be part of such a positive community that is making an incredible impact through simple yet astonishing conversations. So for that, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I served in the 160th SOAR from 2010 – 2014 as a Chinook helicopter crew chief. I was blessed to be able to take part in some amazing experiences with the most elite military forces in the world. After departing the very unit and company that molded me into the man I am today I wanted to share my story and experiences as a Night Stalker with the world. There have been few books written about the unit, and those that have been written were done so from a Pilot’s perspective. I mean let’s face it, when someone mentions the Night Stalkers they automatically think of the pilots. After getting out I was determined to write a short story about the unique and pivotal role as an enlisted 160th Chinook Crew Chief. I began writing the short story after settling down in my home town of Colorado. I was balls to the wall and wrote every night for the next two months. My short story went from 1,000 words to 10,000, and then 40,000 words. My story wasn’t so short anymore and I became determined to write a book. Around the same time I set this goal in the summer of 2014, I was also beginning to cope with a missing link in my life. There was no more brotherhood. There were no more deployments, and in comfort of the United States I felt lost. I missed war and I missed dropping off rough men in the middle of the night to ensure bad things happened to bad people. I relived some of my combat experiences in my sleep and the one thing that helped me cope was alcohol. The book was sidelined and the most important thing in my life was getting black out drunk nearly every night just to ensure I was able to sleep through the night. In 2015 almost a year after I started writing my story I had not written anything and was ready to end my life. I slumped down in a corner in my apartment while scenes from Black Hawk Down played out on the TV. With a 30 .06 in my lap I began to raise the long rifle to my mouth. Before I could reach for the safety my girlfriend walked into the apartment. I immediately started to cry. A rush of emotions pulsed through my body and I had hit an all-time low. Over the next two years this vicious cycle continued. I isolated myself from everyone around me and took everything out on my girlfriend, now wife. Toward the end of 2017 I still had not put pen to paper in pursuit of my goal of writing a book. I received horrific news toward the end of that year. My good friend who I knew through my time in 160th had passed away during the Q course at Ft. Bragg. SSG Alex Dalida was a dedicated 160th Black Hawk crew chief and he would light up any conversation he was a part of. He wanted to further his career and started his journey through the SF pipeline. He was so close to completing the course and donning that prestigious Green Beret. Unfortunately, he suffered catastrophic wounds while on the HME range during the course. After hearing this news, a switch flipped in me and I realized Alex couldn’t tell his never quit story anymore. After learning about Alex’s death I put pen to paper again and was determined more than ever to tell my story about the greatest aviation unit in the world and what it took to get there. I began counseling and quit drinking. I began to write everyday again and 40,000 words turned into 100,000. I was on fire and I could see the light at the end of my ambitious goal. At the beginning of January 2018 I completed the first draft of the book totaling 136,000 words and some 356 pages. At the time I have written this I have been sober for six months. After several rounds of editing I submitted the book to the Pentagon. The book is now number five in the queue waiting to get reviewed. I decided to write about my struggle transitioning out of the special operations community in the last chapter of the book. My hope is that someone out there going through the same obstacles will read it and see they are not alone. Through my struggle and journey I have realized that it is not only important to never quit on your goals, but to not quit on your family or loved ones either. I’m grateful for my family, my brothers, and god for not allowing me to pull that trigger. Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.

Author: David