The Battle of Mogadishu – Black Hawk Down – Gothic Serpent

The Battle of Mogadishu – Black Hawk Down – Gothic Serpent

Black Hawk Down…Black Hawk Down!

For a few amazing soldiers, those were words that would change their lives forever. Operation Gothic Serpent was supposed to be a short, quick 30 minute “snatch and grab” mission…go in, get the bad guys…get out…instead it turned into a multi day fight for their lives. Here’s the timeline (from Wiki):

October 3, 1993

That Afternoon

14:49 — Two principal targets, Habr Gidr clan leaders, located at a residence in central MogadishuSomalia.

15:32 — Official force launch. The force launches: nineteen aircraft, twelve vehicles and 160 men.

15:42 — Official assault beginning. 1st SFOD-D soldiers hit the target house. Four Ranger chalks fast-rope in. One Ranger, Private First Class Todd Blackburn, misses the rope and falls 70 feet to the street.

15:47 — Large crowds of Somalis begin converging on the target area.

15:58 — One of the vehicles, a five-ton truck, is hit and disabled by a rocket propelled grenade, several American soldiers are wounded.

16:00 — Groups of armed Somalis begin converging on the target area from all over Mogadishu.

16:02 — Targets acquired: assault force reports both clan leaders and about 21 others in custody. As the force prepares to pull out, three vehicles are detached to rush the wounded Private Blackburn back to the base.

16:15 — The convoy is delayed and does not move out due to a confusion in who is signalling whom so the prisoners can be loaded and it turns out delta were waiting for the convoy to signal them while the convoy were waiting for delta to signal them. Loading of the prisoners eventually happens after the delta teams move the prisoners to the trucks.

16:20 — First helicopter crash: Black Hawk Super 61 is hit by a rocket propelled grenade and crashes five blocks northeast[verification needed] of the target building.

16:22 — Crowds of armed Somalis start racing toward the Super 61 crash site.

16:26 — Humvee convoy starts moving. Prisoners loaded, the convoy and ground forces all begin moving toward the crashed helicopter. Black Hawk Super 64, piloted by Michael Durant, takes the place of Black Hawk Super 61 in orbit over the city.

16:28 — Search and rescue of Black Hawk Super 61: search and rescue team ropes in to assist the crew of the crashed helicopter. Both pilot and co-pilot are dead.

16:35 — Convoy gets lost: convoy makes a wrong turn and begins driving lost through city streets, sustaining heavy casualties by Somali snipers and armed militia.

16:40 — Second helicopter crash (Super 64): Mike Durant’s Black Hawk, Super 64, is hit by another Somali rocket propelled grenade, and crashes about a mile southwest[verification needed] of the target building. Hostile crowds of Somalis begin moving toward it as well.

16:42 — Two Delta Force snipersSergeant First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon, are inserted by helicopter at their own request to help protect the injured Durant and his crew.

16:54 — HMMWV convoy abandons Black Hawk Super 61 search: the Lost Convoy, with more than half of its force wounded or dead, abandons its search for the first downed Black Hawk and begins fighting its way back to the base.

17:03 — Quick Reaction Force convoy dispatched from Command and Control: a QRF (smaller, emergency convoy) is dispatched in an attempt to rescue the men stranded at Durant’s crash site. It encounters immediate obstacles.

17:34 — QRF and the Lost Convoy decide to return to base: both convoys, having sustained heavy casualties, link up and abandon the effort to break through to Durant. The remainder of the ground force of Rangers and commandos are converging around the first crash site, sustaining many casualties. Ranger Corporal Jamie Smith is among those shot.

17:40 — Snipers Shughart and Gordon are killed: Somali crowds overrun Durant’s crash site, killing Shughart, Gordon, and every member of the crew, except Durant, who is carried off by militia through the city.

17:45 — Both convoys return to the base. 99 men remain trapped and surrounded in the city around the first downed Black Hawk. Corporal Smith bleeding heavily, medic requests immediate evacuation.

19:08 — Black Hawk Super 66 makes a daring re-supply run, dropping water, ammunition and medical supplies to the trapped force. It is badly damaged, cannot land to evacuate Corporal Smith, limps back to base.

20:27 — Ranger Corporal Jamie Smith dies.

21:00 — Joint Task Force Command requests assistance from other commands: The Rescue Convoy is formed of two companies of 10th Mt. Division troops along with the remainder of Task Force Ranger, Pakistani tanks and Malaysian armored vehicles, forms at Mogadishu’s New Port, and begins planning the rescue.

23:23 — The rescue convoy moves out.

October 4, 1993

At Midnight 00:00 (24:00), the Rangers are still trapped inside Mogadishu without essential equipment such as night vision devices.

01:55 — Rescue convoy reaches the trapped Ranger force. A second half of the convoy reaches the site of Durant’s downed Black Hawk. Durant and his crew are missing.

03:00 — Forces still struggling to remove the pinned body of Clifton “Elvis” Wolcott, pilot of downed Super Six One.

05:30 — Rangers start moving from the city to the Pakistani Stadium, on foot: Wolcott’s body is finally recovered. Vehicles roll out of the city. Elements of the Rangers are left to run to a rendez-vous point on National Street, covering the vehicles whilst enduring gunfire during the exfiltration. The road they take is known as the Mogadishu Mile.

06:30 — The force returns to the Pakistani Stadium. 13 Americans are confirmed dead or mortally wounded, 73 injured, and 6 missing in action (5 are later confirmed dead, raising the death toll to 18, and 1 taken prisoner).

During this mission, we lost 18 American soldiers/Airmen. I am friends with several of the participants, and have had very indepth personal conversations with them regarding their feeling about what happened, and why. Those conversations will always be kept in confidence.

The loss of life on the side of the Warlords/insurgents was staggering, as many as 3200 killed.

On the American side, the following Heroes were killed:

MSGT Gary Gordon 33 Killed defending the crew of Super Six-Four Medal of HonorPurple Heart[29]
SFC Randy Shughart 35 Killed defending the crew of Super Six-Four Medal of Honor, Purple Heart[29]
SSGT Daniel Busch 25 Crashed on Super Six-One, mortally wounded defending the downed crew Silver Star, Purple Heart[56]
SFC Earl Fillmore 28 Killed moving to the first craiframe>sh site Silver Star, Purple Heart[57]
MSG Timothy “Griz” Martin 38 Mortally wounded on the Lost Convoy Silver Star, Purple Heart.[58][59]
3rd Ranger Battalion75th Ranger Regiment
CPL Jamie Smith 21 Mortally wounded with the pinned-down force around crash site one Silver Star with Valor Device andOak leaf cluster,
Purple Heart[60]
SPC James Cavaco 26 Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart[61]
SGT Casey Joyce 24 Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart[61]
PFC Richard “Alphabet” Kowalewski 20 Mortally wounded on the Lost Convoy, died later that day Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart[62]
SGT Dominick Pilla 21 Killed on Struecker’s convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart[62]
SGT Lorenzo Ruiz 27 Mortally wounded on the Lost Convoy, died en route to a hospital in Germany Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart[62]
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment
SSG William Cleveland 34 Crew chief on Super Six-Four, killed Silver Star,
Bronze Star,
Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart[63]
SSG Thomas Field 25 Crew chief on Super Six-Four, killed Silver Star,
Bronze Star,
Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart
CW4 Raymond Frank 45 Copilot of Super Six-Four, killed Silver Star,
Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart[64]
CW3 Clifton “Elvis” Wolcott 36 Pilot of Super Six-One, died in crash Distinguished Flying Cross,
Bronze Star,
Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart[63]
CW2 Donovan “Bull” Briley 33 Copilot of Super Six-One, died in crash Distinguished Flying Cross,
Bronze Star,
Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart[65]
2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division
SGT Cornell Houston 31 Killed on the rescue convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device,
de Fleury Medal, Purple Heart[66]
PFC James Martin Jr.


The only other information I have to add, are two amazing posts and a song, by the men who were there.

From my friend and brother Ranger Raleigh Cash:

I wrote this back in 2008 for a web forum. I thought I would share it with the rest of you.


I wake up, kick Carlson’s bunk to wake him up. I smile as he looks at me, (He’s thinking…. why do you kick my cot every morning?)

I take Tori for a run around the airfield this beautiful Sunday morning. I run with the 9mm and I make Tori carry the CAR-15. Just

 your normal Sunday morning in Mogadishu Somalia. Today is the day that the Company is going to the beach to relax a little bit. We’ve had a few missions under our belts so far, and each of us is feeling 10 feet tall and bullet proof. Nothing can stop us. We are Rangers. Tori and I finish our run and do pushups, situps and some pullups to finish our P.T. for the morning. Tori throws in a little jab. “Sarnt, while you are out getting water for the showers today, I’ll be at the beach”. I reply “Get down “. Time for showers and get our uniform of the day on.

I told Tori to square some stuff away prior to him going to the beach and before my element (1/2 of 3rd PLT vehicle convoy) moved out to get supplies. He didn’t do it. Right before we left, I was a very angry Sergeant and found Tori watching T.V. with a bunch of other guys. Instant Smoke.

The last thing I told Tori before I left was: “You’re dead. When I get back, you are done Ranger”.

I’m standing on top of the 18 wheeler filling it up with water when I hear on the radio…. “IRENE”

I yell to the PL, he heard the same thing. We wrap it up and move out back to the Hangar. By the time we got there, Blackburn has fallen out of the Helo, SSG Wilson has been hit.


I can hear my buddy Joe calling for fire from the AH-6′s.


I have never been so scared in my entire life as we start to leave the airfield and I hear over the Radio: “There is a Blackhawk down, a Blackhawk is going down in the city”. They can’t do that to us. Lets go get them.


We drive through our first near ambush just outside the gates of the airfield. As I scream “ACTION LEFT” Lepre on the 50Cal has started his day. I return fire and launch some 40mm buckshot at the bad guys.

Happy Birthday 3rd Ranger Battalion.

Happy Birthday to my wife Jennifer, who has been brave every year. The one who helps me, on this day, Her Birthday, every year, pay my respects to my brothers.

R.I.P to all the brave men who fought and died that day. You will always be in my heart and soul. You will never be forgotten.

To my brothers who came home. I love you.

“Whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart. Give him money to speed his departure since we wish not to die in that man’s company. Whoever lives past today and comes home safely will rouse himself every year on this day, show his neighbors his scars, and tell embellished stories of all their great feats of battle. These stories he will teach to his son, and from this day until the end of the world, we shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for whoever has shed his blood with me shall be my brother. And those men afraid to go, will think themselves as lesser men as they hear of how we fought and died together.

From Ranger Rick Ayers:

Hard to believe it has been 19 yrs today… At the request of my ol’ roomy, Rgr Steve Croushore, I’m posting a poem I wrote several years ago. It took me many years to push aside the guilt of not being there, to actually deal with the loss of my friends. I must give a special thanks to Rangers “TAC” & “Knees” for helping

me thru some very rough times. ~God bless

TFR Mog “Among Heroes” 13Feb02

I once walked amoung Heroes
Of course, i did not realize it at the time
I just thought of them as Brothers
No deeper trust could i ever find

We were drawn together by something that comes from inside
A warrior spirit that has spanned the reaches of time
To become that which others did not want to be, go where they feared to go,
And accomplish what they said could not be done
A calling to belong to the best, an elite brotherhood set aside
Where the right of passage is earned with heart, mind and soul
Prestige, Honor and Esprit de Corps were the order of each day
Nothing else mattered, for us there was no other way

We began each day together, formed as one
Standing in the predawn to welcome the rising sun
In unison we sealed our covenant, pledging our creed
The words we did not just say, they came from the heart
Like rolling thunder through the morning air
It was the one thing, which always set us apart
Nothing else mattered, just being there

We lived a life on the edge of it all
We lived it our way
Training each and every day for war
Nothing else mattered; we cared for nothing more
Masters of our craft, our skills sharpened like the razor’s edge
Living out the words of our pledge
We were the tip of the sword
“Within eighteen hours, anywhere in the world.”
Jumping into the enemy’s back yard
Leaving death and destruction as our “calling card”
We were always prepared for the call
The call that would come, someday

My Brothers answered that call
In fierce battle they gave their all
Fighting and dying to uphold our creed
Keeping the covenant meant most all had to bleed
Almost unimaginable what they had to endure
But, the words came from the heart once more
Like rolling thunder exploding in the night air
And in the twilight of a new dawn…they were still there
As the tide of battle receded and the roar of the beast faded away
All were left with our own scars to bear that day
Except for our fallen comrades, who now lie in gardens of stone
For them, there is peace and eternal rest to call their own
Medals for valor pinned upon a breathless chest
Their families now missing one from the nest
Left to live with the immeasurable pain
And the inevitable question, “Did they die in vain?”
There is no compensation for their bereavement
Only time and the grace of God to mend their hearts
Those who lived can say they passed the warrior’s test
And take pride in knowing they are America’s best
Their actions redefined our creed to this very day
And certainly showed the world why “Rangers Lead the Way!”
As for those of us who were not there to fight
Along side our Brothers to the left and right
We will live out our days carrying the burden of our contrition
Never really laying it down, for that has become our mission
To ensure the torch of their memories burns bright,
To tell the truth of why they fought so valiantly through the night,
And to make an annual toast with our glasses held high…
“Here’s to us, those like us, and there’s damn few of us!”
Leaving that last drink for the “Rangers in the Sky”

Yes, i once walked among Heroes
And lived times others would say were best forgotten
But, the words are still rolling like thunder through the predawn air
They mean as much to me today
As they did that distant yesterday
It is my privilege to have served with men of their caliber
And an honor to be their Ranger Buddy…and Brother.

Debeo Semper Memoriam…
Lo, Dom, Smitty, Casey, and Vaco

I miss all of you each and every day!

Rangers Lead the Way!
Rick  Ayers

From Ranger Keni Thomas:
Black Hawk Down : Send Me

This entry was posted in Empower Network

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