Twenty-four years ago today, American forces fought off hundreds of Somali militia in what is now called the Battle of Mogadishu. The battle was described in the book (and later, film) Black Hawk Down.
At the second crash site, two Delta snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, were inserted by Black Hawk Super 62 – piloted by CW3 Mike Goffena. Their first two requests to be inserted were denied, but they were finally granted permission upon their third request. They inflicted heavy casualties on the approaching Somali mob. Super 62 had kept up their fire support for MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart, but an RPG struck Super 62. Despite the damage, Super 62 managed to go to the New Port and safety.
When MSG Gordon was killed, SFC Shughart picked up Gordon’s CAR-15 and gave it to Super 64 pilot CW3 Michael Durant. SFC Shughart went back around the helicopter’s nose and held off the mob for about 10 more minutes before he was killed. The Somalis then overran the crash site and killed all but Durant. He was nearly beaten to death, but was saved when members of Aidid’s militia came to take him prisoner. For their actions, MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first awarded since Vietnam.
Nineteen U.S. soldiers were killed in the battle, as opposed to an estimated 300-2,000 Somalis. Task Force Ranger repeatedly requested armor support for the mission, but it was denied by the – wait for it – Clinton administration. Funny how Clintons always lose their nerve when soldiers ask for backup.
While the film takes a few liberties, it tells the tale sufficiently. However, if you want the most authentic account, Mark Bowdren’s book Black Hawk Down is an excellent read.