Ridley Scott’s recent movie Black Hawk Down is based on the book by the same name by Mark Bowden of the Philadelphia Enquirer. Having read the book and seen the movie, I would say that both endeavors realistically capture the extraordinary events that occurred in Somalia during the battle of Mogadishu on October 3rd and 4th, 1993.
U.S. forces landed on the beaches of Mogadishu in December of 1992 and attempted to stabilize the war-torn country to get food distributed to the hundreds of thousands of starving Somalis. This stabilizing process involved identifying, locating, and capturing rebel warlords that were both a source of power and of disruption in Somalia. The mission to locate these warlords fell on Task Force Ranger, which consisted of a variety of Special Operations forces to include U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force, 160th Special Forces Aviation Regiment, U.S. Navy SEAL snipers, U.S. Air Force rescue medics, and a variety of other support personnel. TF Ranger had conducted several “snatch and grab” missions prior to October 3rd but this time they were going into the heart of the warlord’s territory. This movie is about the snatch and grab mission of October 3rd and the resulting battle. The title stems from a radio call that was made during the battle following the crash of one the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in the city- “Black Hawk Down!”
I am not ordinarily a fan of Hollywood’s attempts to portray life in the military or the reality of combat. There are simply too many bad movies out there that deliver the wrong impression of life in the military and of the people who serve our country. Happily, this is not one of those movies.
Having served in the U.S. Special Forces for ten years, landed on the beaches of Somalia in December 1992, and worked with each of the units depicted in the film, I would have to say that this time Hollywood simply did it right. The depiction of the conditions in Somalia and of the soldiers and airmen of TF Ranger was right on the money.
I have a few friends who were in that battle, and their first hand description closely matches what you see on film. Usually quick to point out flaws when it comes to military movies, I found few in Black Hawk Down. The director, actors, and special effect coordinators really bring this deadly and costly battle to life for the viewer.
Due to the movie’s reality, this is not a film for the faint at heart. It is a graphic depiction of an intense modern day battle that leaves little to the imagination in understanding the devastating effect of weapons on both men and machine.
In the end, this movie is not about the politics and whether the U.S. should or should not have been involved in Somalia. This is a movie about soldiers fighting for each other and fighting for survival. The movie brings out the central promise that bonds all combat soldiers together. It is the promise that you will always look out for your buddies, no matter what the cost.
In the Battle of Mogadishu 18 men lost their lives and scores of others were seriously wounded. It has been almost 10 years since the battle but I am glad to see that someone has taken the time to record the amazing events of that day and the individual heroism that was displayed. No sense in telling you all the details, go see the movie or better yet read the book. This is a story worth telling and certainly worth listening to. Simply said, this is a well-made movie that accurately tells the story of the Battle of Mogadishu. You won’t be disappointed.
This poem was taken from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment website in honor of SFC Randy Shugart and MSG Gary Gordon. They were Delta Force Snipers who gave their lives to save 160th SOAR Black Hawk pilot CWO Michael Durant. Black Hawk Down
“Black Hawk Down!” across the net came the cry
A wisp from the ground brought fire to sky
Two hundred heads turned in that moment so clear
Yet not a first thought their own lives’ fear.
Pilot, soldier, sailor, crew
Hell’s fire below meant nothing to you
Yet into the maelstrom only two could leap
Against oppression fury they would reap
I can still see them coughing against the desert sand
Fearing naught, an upraised hand
Gesturing towards the fallen, neither haughty nor proud
They disappeared quickly into the rising cloud
Nothing further could I offer, they doubtless knew
As towards the injured with wings they flew
Through smoke, through fire, and failing light
Two soldiers together entered a selfless night
They gave without asking
A reward never known
They sacrificed freely
And our brother came home.
Thank you.Black Hawk Down:
True-to-Life Account Delivers