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Remembering the Battle of Mogadishu: 23 Years Later

Veteran News
Veteran News
October 3, 2016
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The operation which inspired the film "Black Hawk Down" took place on October 3rd, 1993. The Operation, code-named Gothic Serpent, involved U.S. Army Rangers, Special Operation Detachment-Delta and choppers from the elite 160th Special Operations Air Regiment inserted into Mogadishu, Somalia, to find and capture top aides to warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid.The operation would go down in military history because of both the heroism of the soldiers on the ground and the high number of casualties. After Task Force Ranger lost two Black Hawk helicopters and 18 U.S. soldiers (plus an additional Malaysian troop in the rescue convoy), the Clinton Administration decided to withdraw forces from Mogadishu and greater Somalia as well.The event was written about in the book Black Hawk Down, which later became a feature film starring Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor and others. It is one of the most-quoted movies in the military, influencing popular culture even today with lines like "This is my safety, sir."

Units Involved

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Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Photo Courtesy of DoD.[/caption]Task Force Ranger was the name given to the 160 troops assigned to help find Mohammed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu after the deaths of 300,000 Somali citizens due to his hoarding of United Nations food aid.On 22 August, the force was deployed to Somalia under the command of Major General William F. Garrison, JSOC's commander at the time.The force consisted of:

  • B Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
  • C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)
  • A deployment package of 16 helicopters and personnel from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR), which included MH-60 Black Hawksand AH/MH-6 Little Birds.
  • Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU)
  • Air Force Pararescuemen and Combat Controllers from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron.

Operation Gothic Serpent: Irene, Irene, Irene of Delta and 3-75 were attempting to capture Aidid’s foreign minister Omar Salad Elmi and one of his top advisors. The plan was to assault the target building using MH-6 Little Bird helicopters and secure the targets inside the building.Meanwhile, the Rangers were to create a defensive perimeter around the building while a convoy of HMMWV’s and Five-Ton trucks would arrive to take the assault team and the prisoners back to base.At first, the operation went as planned, with the exception of one member of 3-75 falling while fastroping.Over the course of the battle, however, two Blackhawk helicopters would be shot down. The Rangers and Delta operators would be forced to stay overnight and secure the downed helicopters. Gunfights lasted all evening and night.Eventually, relief convoy with the 10th Mountain Division and Malaysian and Pakistani U.N. forces arrived at the first crash site, and most of the task force was extracted.During the extraction, however, some of the Rangers and Delta operators realized there was no more room in the vehicles and had to leave the city on foot. This became known as the “Mogadishu Mile.”

Shugart and Gordon

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Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon, snipers. Source: US Military[/caption]Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon, both Delta snipers, were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in Mogadishu. After both Blackhawk helicopters were shot down, both snipers repeatedly requested to be inserted into the battlefield to assist the downed pilot and crew of the second helicopter, Super-Six Four. They successfully extracted Michael Durant, a crew chief on the helicopter, who was later taken captive after Shugart and Gordon were killed by overwhelming numbers of enemy fighters. Here is part of Shugart's Medal of Honor citation:

...Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site...Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded.

Tim Kennedy Reflects

Special Forces sniper, UFC fighter and Ranger-qualified soldier Tim Kennedy reflected today on what Shugart and Gordon meant to him as a sniper:

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