BLACK HAWK DOWN 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, news flashed across television screens that U.S. troops had engaged in some of the most intenseurban combat since Vietnam and suffered more dead and wounded in a matter of hours than recent years of operations combined. The Battle of Mogadishu on Oct. 3-4, 1993, in Somalia would later be viewed as a tactical success in which, despite daunting odds and unforeseen mishaps, a force of about 100 Americans held off more than 1,000 enemy who poured streams of small arms and rocket attacks in an intense, coordinated ambush. U.S. forces had arrived in the war-torn country in 1992 on a humanitarian mission to get food to starving people in a city where resources were controlled by various warlords. One of those warlords, Gen. Muhammed Farah Aideed, had directed forces that conducted attacks on U.N. allies, killing dozens, and also a bombing in August 1993 that killed four U.S. military police officers. Those attacks changed the mission, dubbed Operation Gothic Serpent, for Task Force Ranger to begin focusing on raids to capture Aideed and his top commanders. Those raids, initially the kind soldiers train for routinely, erupted into a crisis when militiamen downed two Black Hawk helicopters using rocket propelled grenades. The 15-hour battle that ensued left 18 Americans dead and 73 injured. And shocking images of American soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu were seared into the memories of many Americans at home. The book by journalist Mark Bowden and later the movie “Black Hawk Down” chronicled the battle in harrowing detail, memorializing it and contributing to its enduring legacy in both military and civilian circles.

It was in 1993 that Durant’s life would change. He deployed to Somalia as part of the special forces operations in Somalia. During the Battle of Mogadishu, Durant piloted an MH-60 Blackhawk when it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Despite the helicopter’s crash, Durant survived and defended himself with an MP5 submachine gun with the help of Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon. After Shughart and Gordon were killed, Durant was taken prisoner by enemy forces. He was held in captivity for 11 days. Durant’s experiences in Somalia were later portrayed in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down.