Twenty-three years ago today, a U.S. mission to capture Somali militia leaders went horribly wrong after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down over Mogadishu. At the end of the two-day battle, eighteen Americans and nearly 800 Somali militia were dead.
The event is colloquially referred to as Black Hawk Down.
In October 1993, a contingent of 160 U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators—some of America’s most elite, highly-trained and skilled military forces—ventured in helicopters and armed vehicles into the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia, on a mission to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and other leaders of his militia.
But the raid went disastrously wrong.
Two U.S. helicopters were shot down, and a lengthy urban battle ensued in which in which 18 Americans were killed and 73 wounded, and helicopter pilot Michael Durant was seized by an angry mob. Hundreds of Somalis lost their lives as well.
One of the popular theories claims the Battle of Mogadishu, and Clinton’s hasty withdraw of American forces, gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Bin Laden claimed America was a “paper tiger,” and was emboldened by the withdraw.
There are plenty of stories about service and sacrifice during the Battle of Mogadishu, but few more impressive than the Medals of Honor earned by Sergeants Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart.
God bless them and all the heroes who fought in Somalia that day.