During the initial days of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Donald Tabron led a pair of U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) helicopters in a daring rescue mission to locate a missing Navy SEAL on the peak of a mountain named Takur Ghar in Eastern Afghanistan.
Born in 1956 in a suburb of Chicago, Tabron enlisted in the Army following high school in 1975. He was initially assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma as an artilleryman and then to Korea as a personnel manager. In 1979 Tabron attended Warrant Officer Candidate School and was appointed an aviation warrant officer in 1980 before attending flight school. He was assigned as an OH-58A Kiowa scout pilot in Germany where he gained valuable experience flying single pilot missions in a challenging environment.
In 1992 Tabron assessed and was selected to join the elite 160th SOAR (Abn) “Night Stalkers” to fly MH-47 Chinooks. Within 12 days of September 11th 2001, he was deployed in support of the War on Terror. On March 4th 2002, an MH-47 was severely damaged by enemy fire while attempting to insert a team of Navy SEALs on the peak of Takur Ghar in support of Operation Anaconda. During the aborted insertion, Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts fell from the back of the helicopter onto the mountain top. CW5 Tabron was the Air Mission Commander of the Quick Reaction Force tasked with inserting a team of Rangers to locate Roberts on the mountain that would become known as “Roberts Ridge”. His MH-47 was shot down on the peak by overwhelming enemy fire, which began an 18 hour battle for survival.
Despite receiving a gunshot wound in the initial volley of fire, Tabron immediately assisted in securing the perimeter of the crash site and gathering the wounded. An intense fire fight ensued with a numerically superior and entrenched enemy who occupied advantageous terrain. Tabron repeatedly exposed himself to withering heavy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire while running through open terrain in two feet of snow to provide ammunition resupply to the Rangers. Tabron embodies the Night Stalker motto of “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit” and was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions on Roberts Ridge. Following the events at Takur Ghar, he continued to serve with the Night Stalkers and completed multiple deployments in support of the War on Terror before retiring from active duty in 2010.
Tabron accumulated almost 6,000 flight hours over his distinguished 34 year career. He is rated in the TH-55, UH-1H, OH-58A/C, CH-47D and the MH-47D/E. He served as a Battalion and Brigade Standardization Instructor Pilot, Instrument Flight Examiner, Operations Officer and Battalion Senior Warrant Officer. He has deployed in support of Operations PROVIDE COMFORT, UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, DESERT THUNDER, SOUTHERN WATCH, and ENDURING FREEDOM.
Tabron resides in Crofton, Kentucky with his wife Carolyn where he continues his service with the Night Stalkers as a civilian contractor.