The Mogadishu Mile: A Story of Courage and Resilience
In recent history, there are a few moments that clearly showcase the bravery, resilience, and camaraderie that define our U.S. Military. One such moment is the Mogadishu Mile.
The Mogadishu Mile is part of the Battle of Mogadishu, also known as the Black Hawk Down incident, which took place 3-4 OCT 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia. U.S. troops were there because Mohammad Farrah Aidid, a warlord who caused a humanitarian crisis, had declared war on U.N. (United Nations) forces who were providing aid to Somalia.
What started as a special operations mission (Salad Meeting) quickly escalated into a fierce 18-hour urban battle when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by Somali troops. The surviving U.S. troops were divided and trapped in the hostile city with little ammo and spotty communications.
The first Black Hawk, Super 61, was struck by an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) 40 minutes after the mission began. This sent the helicopter into a tailspin, and it crashed in a residential area near the target building. Both pilots died in the crash and two of the crew were severely wounded. Two snipers survived the crash and almost immediately had to defend the crash site because Somali militiamen began shouting “Come out and defend your homes” on megaphones.
Leadership deployed Little Bird helicopters to the area to provide additional cover as well as a combat search and rescue (CSAR) team in Black Hawk Super 68. As the last two men rappelled out of Super 68, it was hit by an RPG but did not crash and made it back to base.
On the ground, the CSAR team moved the wounded men to a nearby collection point under intense enemy fire. A communications mix-up delayed the ground convoy, which meant they had to hang on for 20 minutes until help arrived to collect their wounded teammates.
While they waited, a third Black Hawk, Super 64, hovered over the wreckage of Super 61 providing coverage. It was also hit by an RPG that sent it into a violent tailspin. It crashed about a half mile from Super 61 and was quickly surrounded by an angry mob of Somalis. The men were trapped with little ammunition.
By this time, the Battle of Mogadishu had begun. Command dispatched a Ranger relief column to relieve the troops in Super 64, but it couldn’t make it to them. The Somali forces ambushed them before they’d even gone a half mile. Three American service members died.
As a result, Charlie Company of the 10th Mountain Division’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) tried to head into the city but was also ambushed. The roughly 100 men fired 60,000 rounds and hundreds of grenades but were forced to withdraw in just 30 minutes.
A fourth Black Hawk, Super 62, was sent to the crash site of Super 64 and two snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, were inserted to help provide relief. Like Super 68, it was also hit by an RPG and unable to provide support as planned. It barely made it back to base.
Within minutes of being inserted, Gordon and Shughart were killed. The crash site was overrun, and all the crew members were killed except the pilot, Michael Durant. He was severely beaten and taken prisoner.
Meanwhile, at the crash site of Super 61, roughly 90 Rangers and Delta Force operators were effectively trapped due to the heavy enemy fire. They took up positions in four Somali houses to protect themselves and the wounded while they waited for relief. They held these positions into the night while Little Bird helicopters, working in pairs, provided much needed air support that helped keep the Somali militia at bay.
By this time, it was apparent to all involved the situation was dire and the troops needed to retreat.
At 0200, a convoy of more than 100 U.N. relief vehicles carrying Malaysian, Pakistani, and American troops made its way into the city with support from several Black Hawk and Cobra helicopters. Task Force Ranger Little Birds continued their defense of the trapped service members while the convoy made their way to the Super 61 crash site. The relief convoy sustained heavy casualties in the effort to save them. At the crash site, a group of Rangers and Delta Force operators realized there wasn’t enough room left for them in the convoy vehicles. They ran alongside the vehicles, using them for cover, as they made their way to a rendezvous point. There was some confusion, and a few soldiers were left behind and forced to trek without the protection of the convoy vehicles.
The Mogadishu Mile refers to their trek on foot, all while under enemy fire, to safety.
4 October 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. Join us in honoring the brave, resilient men who were part of it by taking on our Mogadishu Mile Monthly Mission.
(2021, September 22). The battle of Mogadishu. ASOMF. https://www.asomf.org/the-battle-of-mogadishu/
Marion, F. L. (2018). The Battle of Mogadishu: Special Tactics in Somalia, 1993. In Brothers in Berets: The Evolution of Air Force Special Tactics, 1953-2003 (pp. 271–298). Air University Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep19550.13