A Somber, Yet Proud Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today, members of the Delta Force and Army Rangers descended upon Mogadishu, Somalia in an attempt to capture lieutenants of Habr Gidr clan warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. While Aidid’s men were captured, the operation went south shortly thereafter.

The incident most of us remember as “Black Hawk Down” illustrated how the worst possible situation can bring out the best possible actions of American servicemen. Tired, wounded men gave their all that day to both stop the Islamist attackers while simultaneously refusing to leave their brothers behind.

Men like Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon sacrificed themselves to save Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant; actions which earned them posthumous Medals of Honor. While the snipers displayed unquestioned bravery, heroism was not of short supply that day. Less than two hundred American servicemen faced off against most of Mogadishu’s male population, with numbers ranging from five hundred to two thousand.

Nineteen Americans were killed, seventy-three were wounded. Estimates place the Somali dead between 300-1,000, and more than one thousand wounded.

Twenty-five years ago today, American troops showed why they are, and have always, been a force for good. They will always fight evil, wherever it spreads. Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and sacrifices. They will never be forgotten.

Uncommon Valor

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.

A Somber Anniversary

battle-of-mogadishu-1993Twenty-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.