The rustic conditions of an abandoned World War II-era airfield on Parris Island attracted an elite Army special operations unit to the Lowcountry over the weekend to train its helicopter pilots.
Traveling with three MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, soldiers from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) touched down Friday at Page Field to begin preparing for two days of offshore training. Nicknamed "The Night Stalkers," the unit is based in Fort Campbell, Ky., and specializes in attack, assault and reconnaissance missions usually conducted at night. The regiment comprises four battalions, including one at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah.
Two by two, the unit's helicopter pilots will be taken at least 100 miles offshore and left to navigate back to Page Field in the dark. Page Field once served as the home of Marine Corps Air Station Parris Island and has been abandoned since 1947.
"We like to use this target because it's very difficult to find," said Hal, an Army chief warrant officer and one of the unit's Black Hawk pilots. The Army does not release the last names of soldiers assigned to its special forces units.
"You can't go anywhere in this area and be more than like 5 feet above sea level," he joked. "So it's basically one big table top and cut into these 100-foot pines is this runway, which isn't lit. If you didn't do your mission planning properly, you'd never find it."