By: Kelly Twedell
Due to this week's government shutdown, Fayetteville and Fort Bragg's brand new exhibit at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum (ASOM) to honor the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Army's battle in Somalia at Mogadishu, will not be unveiled to the public.
Thursday evening on the anniversary of the battle an intimate group of 100 veterans of battle were invited to a private ceremony inside the museum. Friday afternoon a private memorial ceremony was held at Fort Bragg's Delta Force compound where many involved in the battle paid their respects to their fallen brothers.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC) G-4 section recently worked logistical issues to help bring three aircraft damaged in the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, to their permanent resting place at the ASOM.
War torn relics from the infamous Super 6-1 helicopter that was shot down were recovered by a civilian company in Somalia earlier in the year. Bringing them back to U.S. soil required a team effort and as one could imagine, it was emotional for many involved in the epic battle having something so tangible brought back and put on display.
When they ran into issues with transportation and customs while trying to return these items to the United States military, the command asked the USAOAC G4 to assist according to a Defense News report.
"It is very unusual to transfer ownership of something like this from civilians to the military," said Sgt. Maj. Mike McClenahan. "We had to make everything very transparent and prove to Kenyan customs officials that we were not doing anything nefarious."
Below is a timeline and a synopsis of the fateful battle's exhibits that tell the story of the 15-hour battle where 19 American soldiers died and 78 were wounded. The battle breathed life into a book and motion picture, "Black Hawk Down", based on the actual characters from the mission.
The Battle of Mogadishu
Oct. 3, 1993
Intelligence indicated Omar Salad and Abdi “Qeybdid Hassan Awale, two of General Mohamed Farah Aideed’s top lieutenants are holding a meeting at a residence near the Olympic Hotel in the Black Sea area of Mogadishu.
A Somali informant stops his vehicle in front of the residence and raises his hood to signal that he is at the target location.
There is concern as to whether or not this is the correct target residence. Reconnaissance asks the informant to reconfirm and identify the target location.
The informant drives around the block to reconfirm the target location.
The informant confirms the target. Reconnaissance provides video of the residence and advises that this area has had recent incidents of small arms fire.
Super 6-1 (six, one) is shot down by an RPG. A quickly constitutional Ground Reaction Force (GRF) moves towards the crash site. Survivors climb from the wreckage. Assault Forces personnel begin securing the position. The two pilots are killed in the crash. Two snipers are wounded shortly after evacuating the aircraft.
Crowds of Somalis advance towards the crash site.
An MH-6 assault helicopter lands at crash site and extracts casualties while Super 6-2 provides cover.
GRF #1 and the Assault Force are ordered to advance to the crash site. Upon arrival, the plan calls for transporting the wounded and detainees to the Task Force Ranger compound in 5-ton trucks with HMMWV security.
Super 6-8 inserts a fifteen-man Combat Search and Rescue team (CSAR) at the first crash site. Super 6-8 is hit by an RPG, but safely returns to base.
Super 6-4 is hit by an RPG and crashes. As a large crowd advances towards the second crash, Super 6-2 fast-ropes two snipers at the site.
Forces are unable to recover the KIA trapped in the aircraft at the first crash site and are forced to stay there.
GRF #2, consisting of 27 personnel in seven HMMWVs, becomes a rescue force for the second crash site.
The Quick Reaction Force (QRF) consisting of elements from 2-14 INF and 10th Mountain Division arrives at the TF Ranger compound.
The Assault Force maneuvers to the first crash site.
Super 6-2 is hit by an RPG but successfully struggles back to the UN Facility at New Port.
GRF#1 and GRF #2 linkup at K-4 circle and return back to the compound.
QRF attempts to reach the crash sites and enters into a firefight near K4 circle.
The Assault Force at crash site #1 is low on ammo and medical supplies.
Super 6-8 returns to base to pick up water, ammo, and IV bags. After the ambush, the QRF returns to the TF Ranger compound to reassemble the force due to breaks in combat.
Plan finalized for QRF to advance to first crash site with twenty-eight Malaysian armored personnel carriers and four Pakistani tanks.
Super 6-6 successfully drops supplies at the first crash site.
The Assault Force requests that the QRF arrive at the first crash site immediately.
The critically wounded in action (WIA) at the first crash site is now KIA.
There are a total of 99 personnel at the first crash site, including 13 WIA and 3 KIA. The situation at the second crash site remains unknown.
QRF links up with Pakistani and Malaysian forces at New Port. They finalize a plan to set up a holding area between crash sites and move one company to each crash site.
QRF leaves New Port
QRF arrives at the holding area and a company is dispatched to the first crash site.
QRF convoy and the first crash site take heavy small arms fire.
Super 6-1 Display
Local sculptor Vincent M. L. Myers constructed the pedestal that supports Super 6-1 out of steel.
A statement by Vincent M. L. Myers:
A quote by Victor Hugo: “A day will come when a Cannon will be exhibited in museums, just as instruments of torture are now, and the people will be astonished that such a think could have ever been.”
The Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 was one of intense fighting and heroism by all who were involved. Displayed before you is a piece of the wreckage from Super 6-1, the first helicopter to crash resulting in a change of mission and fate for the soldiers conducting the operation that day. The exhibit display is quite unique because it not only serves as a historical artifact and a symbol of courage, but as a memorial for the American men that lost their lives during that engagement. The late John Wayne once said: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.”
Michael Durant’s POW Belongings:
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Durant’s capture made headlines in many major news publications. Pictured are his possessions from just prior to and during his captivity.
1. Robe, provided by the Red Cross and worn by Durant during his release.
2. Cross Necklace, provided by the Red Cross and worn by Durant during his captivity.
3. Bible, used by Durant to document the circumstances of his captivity. Handwritten notes are visible in the margins.
4. Cloth, used as bedding
5. Map of Mogadishu, Used during Task Force Ranger missions.
6. Child’s Toilet Training Seat, Given to Durant by his captors to use as both a toilet and wash basin.
7. Blood Chit, A document carried by the military, usually air crews, that displays messages aimed at civilians asking them to help the service member in case they are shot down.
"I will not send you in here (Bakara Market) unless it is a lucrative target. I know if I send you guys in, we’ll get in a gunfight.” – Major General William F. Garrison
Bakara Market is situated in a volatile and densely populated slum of Mogadishu. The mercantile hub of the Somali capital, it offers everything for sale from food to weapons. The market district is a complex maze of narrow, litter-filled alleyways and crowded streets that provide ample shelter for armed mobs. A very dangerous area, daily life here is characterized by violence and brutality. It was in this chaotic and jam-packed marketplace that Task Force Ranger would conduct its seventh and final mission.
“We had all been taught, all the way up till this point, an extreme amount of restraint. And that was (kind of) what made us different than everyone else.” – Roger Nickel on the battle from his perspective.
Super 6-4 Crash Site Diorama
Represented here are Master Sergeant Gordon and Sergeant First Class Shugart, along with the pilot of Super 6-4, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael J. Durant as they make their heroic stand against the swarming Somalis. Insurgents loyal to warlord General Muhammed Farah Aideed captured Chief Durant and held him as a Prisoner of War for 11 days. (see photo of three warriors)
Wreckage of Super 6-1
The crash site of Super 6-1 is widely considered to have been the event that changed the mission on 3 October 1993. After being hit by an enemy RPG, Super 6-1 crashed at 1620 hours, five blocks from the target building killing pilots Cliff Wolcott and Donovan Briley, and injuring the other crew members aboard. The remains of Super 6-1 were not received until nearly 20 years later, when, in 2012, Polaris Business Intelligence & Investigations (Pbi2) was able to arrange for the wreckage to be unearthed from where it had lain in Mogadishu at great personal risk and expense. It was repatriated to the United States in August of 2013.