Monday marks the 29-year anniversary of Black Hawk Down, and it’s a great time to take a moment to honor and remember all the men who were lost.
On October 3, 1993, a task force made up of Army Rangers and Delta Force operators conducted a mission in Mogadishu, Somalia in an attempt to stop a genocide being conducted by warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
What was supposed to be a quick, daytime operation to arrest some of Aidid’s men turned into one of the greatest nightmares in American military history.
Two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down during the operation, and the objective quickly pivoted from arresting Aidid’s men to secure two different crash sites.
Black Hawk Down was a horrific event, but American heroism still shined through.
Disaster unfolded as the entire city of Mogadishu was cut loose against a couple hundred American soldiers in the streets.
By the end of the Battle of Mogadishu, 18 Americans were dead and another 73 had been wounded. It was an absolute bloodbath that saw American bodies dragged through the streets in one of the most horrifying displays of cruelty in modern history.
However, the Battle of Mogadishu is also an example of American selflessness, sacrifice and greatness. Instead of running to safety, the Rangers and Delta operators fought to the bitter end to secure the crash sites and save as many people as possible.
We lost 18 American heroes in a foreign country attempting to stop a genocide on the other side of the world. Without hesitation, a dozen and a half Americans laid their lives down for each other and for complete strangers being starved to death.
Delta Force snipers paid the ultimate price to save a downed pilot.
One of the stories that has always stuck with me is that of Delta Force snipers Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart.
Knowing they would both die, the pair voluntarily inserted into one of the crash sites to kill enemy fighters attempting to murder pilot Mike Durant.
Both men fought to the very end, and ultimately, saved Durant’s life. He was briefly held as a POW by Aidid’s forces before being returned. The pair earned the Medal of Honor for their actions in Somalia that horrific day.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview a handful of Black Hawk Down veterans. They’re truly incredible people. 29 years later and they still can talk about the battle like it was just yesterday.
One of the most incredible moments was when Jeff Struecker talked about nobody hesitating to fight. When the Rangers needed more guns, cooks, intel guys and anyone else with a weapon rushed to join the battle.
“Every one of them knew they might die doing this, but none of them hesitated. Not one of them,” Struecker explained when talking about the heroic actions he saw that day.
On the other hand, the Americans were also ready to get payback for their friends dying and being murdered.
Brad Thomas, who will soon make an appearance on American Joyride, told me a long time ago that the goal was to grab as much ammo as possible and get it on once they hit the streets again.
There are a lot of people who seem down and out on America. Trashing the USA has become a popular thing to do. Of course, it’s ridiculous because this country is a great place full of great people.
The heroics on display October 3, 1993 through the next morning is proof of that fact. American men deployed to Somalia and 18 never came home fighting to feed complete strangers. If that doesn’t make you proud of the USA, nothing ever will. For me, I’m damn proud of all the men who sacrificed in Somalia to help those who needed it. That’s what America is all about.