From August 26, 1993, to 21 October, 1993, Company B, a Platoon from A Company and a command and control element of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, deployed to Somalia to assist United Nations forces in bringing order to a desperately chaotic and starving nation. Their mission was to capture key leaders in order to end clan fighting in and around the city of Mogadishu. On October 3, 1993, the Rangers conducted a daring daylight raid with 1st SFOD in which several special operations helicopters were shot down. For nearly 18 hours, the Rangers delivered devastating firepower, killing an estimated 600 Somalis in what many have called the fiercest ground combat since Vietnam. Six Rangers paid the supreme sacrifice in accomplishing their mission. Their courage and selfless service epitomized the values espoused in the Ranger Creed, and are indicative of the Ranger spirit of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
“It is like a porcupine, bristling with quite exceptional difficulties.”
J.F.C. Fuller, 1935
Somalia was formed in 1960 by the union of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.
At civil war since 1977, Somalia has approximately 14 major factions participating in internecine warfare. The majority of Somalis are Sunni Moslems.
In 1991 the Somali government collapsed after decades of civil war where killings and beheadings became common occurrences. The already weakened infrastructure coupled with a drought led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Somalis by starvation.
Food relief missions, initiated by private organizations, were seized by various clans who in turn used these assets to procure additional weapons and pay their followers.
The intrinsic violent nature of the Somali clans hampered further relief efforts to such a point that the United Nations approved Resolution 751 in April 1992, to provide humanitarian aid to Somalia (UNOSOM I). Unable to properly accomplish the mission due to the lack of proper resources, the United States initiated Operation Provide Relief. Although temporarily successful and welcomed by many Somalis, additional security measures were needed and a few months later Operation Restore Hope sought to provide military as well as humanitarian support.
In March 1993, Operation Restore Hope was turned over to UN Peacekeeping Forces and UNOSOM II was created, making it the first ever UN directed peacekeeping mission. The mandate called for three distinct phases; disarming Somali clans, rebuild the political infrastructure and create a more secure environment. Twenty-one nations contributed personnel to UNOSOM II. Turkish General Bir and retired Admiral Jonathan Howe, acting as special representative to the UN Secretary-General, were in command. US General Montgomery led a US Quick Reaction Force (QRF).
Effects of UNOSOM II:
UN nation-building in Somali threatened certain clans, most notably the Somali National Alliance (SNA) under the leadership of Mohammed Aidid, the former chief of staff.
Headquartered in Mogadishu, Aidid; trained in guerrilla war, quickly initiated a campaign of resistance to the UN which ultimately led to a series of ambushes killing 24 Pakistani Peacekeepers. These soldiers were physically torn apart and dismembered by the doped-up clansmen.
The UN was forced to demonstrate its willingness to protect its peacekeepers and the next day the UN and the White House, under the leadership of UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali and Madeline Albright, passed Resolution 837, authorizing action against those responsible: namely Aidid.
Strained relations between the Clinton Administration and the military (gay-rights, general distrust toward Armed Forces) led to the exclusion of any input from the Pentagon regarding Resolution 837.
The humanitarian mission changed to a military one. Gunships arrived, and with the additional firepower numerous Aidid assets were destroyed or seized.
Boutros-Ghali had been a long time enemy of Aidid’s and unable to quickly resolve the escalating military situation in Mogadishu, Howe placed a $25,000 bounty on Aidid. The battles became personal.
More Somalis began to see the UN, under the leadership of the US, as a threat, not as a neutral party. The SNA withdrew a little, and the gunships were sent back in order to open negotiations with Aidid. However, smaller engagements continued. Several UN contingents, most notably the Italians, had non-aggression pacts with the SNA.
Bir and Howe became frustrated enough to request proper troops for the manhunt SFOD-Delta and US Army Rangers.
Task Force Ranger (TFR)
TFR was placed under the command of General William Garrison. Although numerous raids took place, Aidid was not caught. Additional fire power in the form of mechanized vehicles and armor was denied by the Secretary of Defense Les Aspin after an American helicopter was shot down. Frustrated and under pressure from the White House, which had secretly opened negotiations with Aidid, TFR undertook an unnecessary and daring day-light raid, resulting in the battles of October 3-4, 1993. 18 American servicemen died. Somali casualties range from 350-700 killed and thousands wounded. The White House withdrew US troops shortly thereafter.
October 3-4, 1993 timeline
2:49 PM Two principle targets, Habr Gidr clan leaders, spotted at a residence in central Mogadishu.
3:32 PM The force launches: nineteen aircraft, twelve vehicles and 160 men.
3:42 PM The Assault begins. the boys hit the target house and four Ranger chalks rope in — one Ranger, Private Todd Blackburn, misses the rope and falls 70 ft. to the street.
3:47 PM Large crowds of Somalis converging on the target area.
3:58 PM One of the vehicles, a five-ton truck, is hit and disabled by a rocket propelled grenade, several men are wounded.
4:00 PM Forces of armed Somalis converging on the target area from all over Mogadishu.
4:02 PM 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.
4:15 PM Fighting and confusion delays loading the prisoners and pulling out. 4:20 PM Black Hawk Super 61 is hit by a rocket propelled grenade and crashes five blocks northeast of the target.
4:22 PM Crowds of Somalis racing toward the crash site.
4:26 PM Prisoners loaded, the convoy and ground forces all begin moving toward the downed chopper. Black Hawk Super Six Four, piloted by Michael Durant, takes the downed chopper’s place in orbit over the fight.
4:28 PM Search and rescue team ropes in to assist the downed crew. Both pilot and copilot are dead.
4:35 PM Convoy makes a wrong turn and begins wandering lost through city streets, sustaining heavy casualties.
4:40 PM Durant’s Black Hawk, Super Six Four, is hit and crashes about a mile southwest of the target. Hostile crowds begin moving toward it.
4:42 PM Two snipers, Sergeants Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon, are inserted by helicopter to help protect the injured Durant and his crew.
4:54 PM 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.
5:03 PM A smaller, emergency convoy is dispatched in an attempt to rescue the men stranded at Durant’s crash site. It encounters immediate obstacles.
5:34 PM Both convoys, battered and bleeding, 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.
5:40 PM 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.
5:45 PM Both convoys return to the base. Ninety-nine men remain trapped and surrounded in the city around the first downed Black Hawk, fighting for their lives. Corporal Smith bleeding heavily, medic requests immediate evacuation.
7:08 PM Black Hawk Super Six makes a daring re-supply run, dropping water, ammo and medical supplies to the trapped force. It is badly damaged, cannot land to evacuate Corporal Smith, limps back to base.
8:27 PM Corporal Smith dies.
10:00 PM Giant convoy, 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. 11:23 PM The giant rescue convoy moves out, blazing into the city.
1:55 AM Rescue convoy reaches the trapped Ranger force. A second half of the convoy reaches the site of Durant’s downed Black Hawk. There is no trace of the crew.
3:00 AM Forces still struggling to remove the pinned body of Cliff Wolcott, pilot of Super Six One.
5:30 AM Wolcott’s body is finally recovered. Vehicles roll out of the city. Ranger force is left to run out of the city through gunfire-“The Mogadishu Mile.”
6:30 AM The force returns to the Pakistani Stadium. Eighteen dead, 73 injured.
Alternate time-line from DeLong and Tuckey – Mogadishu October 3, 1993
1:00 PM Joint Operations Command Center briefing where intelligence was bared indicating top Farid Aidid lieutenants were ready for the picking.
2:15 PM Task Force Ranger places section of Mogadishu offlimits; first indication to various U.S. units throughout city that operation might occur.
3:30 PM Lead pilot gets “Irene” code word; mission begins.
3:37 PM Task Force Ranger headquarters issues REDCON ONE alert keeping men on 30-minute “string.”
3:50 PM Ground convoy arrives in position waiting for signal to load prisoners. 4:00 PM Insertion complete with assault forces and blockers on the outside doing their job; enemy fire starting to increase.
4:10 PM First notification of Cliff Wolcott’s downed helicopter.
4:20 PM Michael Durant’s helicopter is shot down about a mile to the south of first crash site.
4:30 PM Ground convoy attempts to reach Wolcott crash site but runs into fierce Somali resistance. 10th Mountain Quick Reaction Force summoned to airport.
4:35 PM Snipers Shughart and Gordon dropped off at Durant crash site to help fend off armed crowds.
5:00 PM Ground convoy decides to forsake rescue mission after taking too many injuries and returns to airfield.
5:15 PM Hastily assembled Ranger rescue team takes off for Wolcott crash site and encounters furious resistance.
5:24 PM QRF arrives at airport for intense rescue planning.
6:18 PM Ground convoy arrives at airfield.
6:30 PM QRF force takes off in combat column for rescue effort at Durant crash site.
7:00 PM QRF column is forced to turn back after encountering fierce Somali firepower.
7:20 PM Ranger company at Wolcott crash site establishes defense perimeter to wait for rescue force.
8:30 PM Planning just about complete at airport for multinational rescue force that includes QRF soldiers aided by Malaysian and Pakistani armored vehicles and personnel.
10:40 PM Relief column including about 300 soldiers from three nations ready to pull out.
11:30 PM Relief column pulls out.
Midnight Two APCs with rescue troops heading for northern (Wolcott) crash site turn south instead and end up stranded after being hit by Somali RPG attack.
1:50 AM QRF relief column arrives at Wolcott crash site.
3:00 AM Stranded rescuers picked up by Malaysian APCs from troops at southern (Durant) crash site.
5:20 AM QRF and Rangers extract bodies from Wolcott crash site and prepare to move back to the airport.
5:45 AM Convoy arrives back at sports stadium.
1) The Clinton Administration, unhappy with inheriting the Somalia problem and distrusting the military, failed to properly analyze the internal political situation.
2) Personal dislikes toward Aidid by Howe and Boutros-Ghali only alienated the parties further.
3) The Clinton Administration’s failure in policy and subsequent failure in supporting its own policies (denial of additional resources) further failed when they opened secret negotiations with Aidid without informing TFR.
4) The intelligence and military apperatis’ dependence on high technology in a zero-tech environment clearly demonstrated a command failure. Human intelligence gathering was non-existent and not properly supported throughout. Some analysts believe that Aidid set-up TFR with faulty intelligence. There is no direct evidence supporting that statement. It has been asserted that intelligence collaboration with other UN forces would have been appropriate. Given the “neutrality” stance of certain countries this would have led to a disaster (see below).
5) Certain UN contingents had understandings with the SNA. The Italians have been accused of alerting the clans whenever US troops (TFR) departed for missions.
6) TFR failed on an operational level in that no contingencies were made for multiple helicopter crashes and/or proper incorporation of the QRF (10th Mountain).
7) The battle in Mogadishu on October 3-4, 1993 represent one of the greatest feats of American combat arms.
8) The so-called failure in Somalia led to the Clinton Administration’s refusal to intervene in the Rwandan civil war which killed at least 500,000 inhabitants.
The military withdrawal from Somalia enraged many servicemen and demonstrated a lack of foreign policy leadership.
(From Mogadishu! Heroism and Tragedy by Kent DeLong and Steven Tuckey, Praeger, 1994 *not complete)
Jones, Chief Warrant Officer Randy -Task Force Ranger Pilot of his “little bird” attack helicopter Barber 51.
Matthews, Lieutenant Colonel Tom -Air Mission Commander from the 160th Special Aviation Regiment.
Garrison, Major General William -Task Force Ranger commander.
Aidid, General Mohammed Farid -Somalian warlord and target of the United Nations manhunt, in general, and October 3 mission in specific.
Cugno, Major Ron -STAR wing assault commander flying MH-6 “little bird” helicopter.
Wade, CW3 Hal -Co-pilot and wing leader for Jones in “little bird” attack helicopter.
Kulsrud, Chief Warrant Officer Larry -Pilot of “Little Bird” attack helicopter Barber 52.
Wolcott, Cliff -75th Ranger and Blackhawk Super 61 pilot shot down on October 3 after inserting Delta Force troops at target site.
Goffena, Michael -75th Ranger and Blackhawk Super 62 pilot and part of the insertion team.
Perino, Lieutenant Larry -3rd Ranger Battalion, B Company platoon and mission chalk position leader.
Steele, Captain Mike -3rd Ranger Battalion and B Company commander.
Durant, Michael -160th Regiment Blackhawk helicopter Super 64 pilot shot down and held captive by Somalis for 10 days.
DiTomasso, Lieutenant Tom -3rd Ranger Battalion B Company platoon and mis-sion chalk position leader.
Cleveland, Sergeant Bill -Durant’s Super 64 crew chief.
Fields, Sergeant Tommie -Durant’s Super 64 crew chief.
Eversman, NCO Sergeant Matthew -Ranger platoon leader inserted at target building.
Elliott, Sergeant Charles -Ranger at target building.
Heard, Private First Class Brian -Ranger at target building who was ordered to shoot armed, threatening Somalis.
Briley, Donovan -Wolcott’s co-pilot who died in the downing of his Super 61 Blackhawk.
Jollota, Dan -160th Regiment and pilot of the Combat Search and Rescue helicopter who first was at Wolcott’s crash site.
Lamb, Sergeant First Class Al -CSAR insertion team lead in Jollota’s chopper.
Belda, Sergeant Mark -Weapons team member in CSAR chopper.
Maier, Chief Warrant Officer Karl -Pilot of STAR 41 “little bird” MH-6 gunship that aided Wolcott rescue effort.
Jones, Chief Warrant Officer Keith -Maier’s co-pilot who aided in Wolcott rescue effort.
Ward, Hal -Crew member of the “little bird” gunship.
Belman, Sergeant John -CSAR soldier in Jollota’s craft.
Stebbins, Specialist John -CSAR soldier in Jollota’s chopper sent to aid rescue efforts at downed Wolcott helicopter site.
McKnight, Lieutenant Colonel Danny -3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger regiment-leader of the truck convoy that was to remove captives from the target building, but was diverted to failed rescue attempt at Wolcott crash site.
Powell, Sergeant Bill -75th Ranger Regiment in charge of McKnight ground convoy fire support team.
Carlson, Private First Class Tory -Part of McKnight ground convoy.
Cavaco, Corporal James -Mark 19 gunner in McKnight ground convoy shot and killed.
Pringle, Sergeant Michael -Ground convoy machine gunner.
Galleher, Sergeant Bob -Ground convoy driver.
Joyce, Corporal James J. -Killed in McKnight ground convoy rescue attempt.
Weaver, Sergeant Aaron -Ground convoy driver.
Williamson, Sergeant Aaron -Ranger in a blocking position at the target house who was shot when he was on a mission to rescue other soldiers in danger at the Wolcott crash site.
Smith, Corporal James -Ranger fatally shot trying to aid at Wolcott crash site.
Blackburn, Sergeant Todd -Chalk Four Ranger who was injured in original insertion.
Ruiz, Sergeant Lorenzo -Killed in the ground convoy.
Kowaleski, Private First Class Richard -Ranger killed in the ground convoy.
Warner, Sergeant Mark -Ranger trying to assist the ground convoy.
Fillmore, Sergeant First Class Earl -Ranger killed in attempt to reach Wolcott crash site.
Boorn, Sergeant Kenneth -Ranger shot in first attempt to reach Wolcott crash site.
Rodriguez, Specialist Carlos -Ranger shot in first attempt to reach Wolcott crash site.
Goodale, Sergeant Mike -Ranger fire control officer taking part in first attempt to reach Wolcott crashsite.
Frank, Ray -Slain co-pilot in Durant’s doomed Super 64 Blackhawk.
Hall, Sergeant Mason -Door gunner in Goffena Super 62 Blackhawk.
Field, Tommie -Slain crew chief in Durant’s doomed Super 64 Blackhawk.
Gordon, Master Sergeant Gary -Delta Force sniper killed in attempt to rescue Durant. Later awarded Medal of Honor.
Shughart, Sergeant First Class Randy -Delta Force sniper killed in attempt to rescue Durant. Later awarded Medal of Honor.
Shannon, Crew Chief Paul -Crew chief in Goffena’s Blackhawk Super 62.
Yacone, Captain Jim -Goffena’s co-pilot.
Halling, Bradley -Sniper in Goffena’s Super 62 Blackhawk.
David, Lieutenant Colonel William -Commander of 10th Mountain Quick Reaction Force.
Flaherty, Lieutenant Michael -QRF medic.
Casper, Colonel Lawrence -10th Mountain Aviation Brigade commander.
Harold, Lieutenant Colonel Bill -Delta Force commander.
Gile, Brigadier General Greg -10th Mountain Division commander.
Whetstone, Captain Mike -10th Mountain QRF Charlie Company commander.
Montgomery, Major General -10th Mountain commander who led the multinational effort to rescue trapped Rangers at the two helicopter crash sites.
Carroll, Sergeant -Wounded QRF soldier rescued by Sergeant Doody in first ill-fated rescue attempt.
Pamer, Private First Class Eugene -QRF soldier shot in first ill-fated rescue attempt; Silver Star recipient.
Knight, Sergeant Richard -QRF soldier in first ill-fated rescue attempt.
Durant, Lorrie -Wife of Michael Durant who kept home fires burning waiting for his return from captivity.
Gore, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lee -Commander of 10th Mountain “Raven” attack helicopter company.
Neely, Jim -Pilot in “Raven” company.
Nixon, Major Craig -Liaison from Task Force Ranger to QRF.
Aspin, Les -Secretary of Defense until January of 1994.
Powell, General Colin -Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff through 1993.
Doody, First Sergeant Gary -Charlie Company soldier who received numerous awards for valor under fire.
Hollis, Lieutenant Mark -QRF Alpha Company platoon leader stranded in a wrong-way convoy.
Meyerowich, Captain Drew -QRF Alpha Company commander sent to Wolcott crash site rescue effort.
Moores, Lieutenant Larry -Ranger who helped lead a hastily assembled convoy to rescue survivors at Wolcott crash site.
Warner, Sergeant Mark -Ranger who helped lead a hastily assembled convoy to rescue survivors at Wolcott crash site.
Mita, First Sergeant David -l0th Mountain Alpha Company NCO sent to rescue Rangers at Wolcott crash site.
Martin, Private First Class James -l0th Mountain soldier who died on way to Wolcott crash site rescue.
Howard, Lieutenant Colonel Bill -Special Forces officer who accompanied QRF rescue effort to Wolcott crash site.
Liles, Sergeant First Class John -Senior medic for 160th Aviation Regiment.
Adams, Dr. Bruce -l60th Regiment surgeon key to hospital operations after the mission.
Borton, Tommie -Adams’s medic assistant.
March, Dr. Bruce -Special Forces surgeon who helped set up casualty collection point near the airport’s tarmac.
Uhorachak, Major John -Army orthopedic surgeon helping to staff field hospital that day.
Martin, Master Sergeant Tim “Grizz” -Special Forces soldier killed in action.
Simpson, Staff Sergeant Michael -Forward Area Rearming and Refueling Point chief armament technician.
Harrison, Chuck -Pilot.
Seipel, Specialist John -QRF soldier shot but not seriously injured when Crash Site One rescue convoy pulled out Monday morning.
DeJesus, Specialist Melvin -Ranger who was stranded at Wolcott crash site.
Houston, Sergeant Cornell -QRF soldier who was killed in action.