Today in military history: Marines storm Mogadishu

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On Dec. 9, 1992, 1,800 United States Marines arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to help restore peace in the war-torn country.

As part of Operation Restore Hope, the Marines supported international aid workers in the country for humanitarian aid operations, including food and supply distribution; however, the violence continued, including the killing of 24 United Nations soldiers from Pakistan in 1993.

In response, the U.N. authorized the arrest of General Mohammed Farah Aidid, the leader of a rebel clan responsible for much of the unrest. The attempt to make the arrest would inspire the 2001 film Black Hawk Down when rebels shot down two UH-60s and killed 18 American soldiers while footage of the bloodshed aired on television worldwide. 

President Bill Clinton immediately ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia and other U.N. countries followed suit, leaving the region unstable and without a functioning government. 

The Battle of Mogadishu remains one of the most infamous and controversial engagements in modern U.S. military history. The battle has been documented in books and film, most notably Black Hawk Down. The film depicts the Rangers, Delta operators, 160th SOAR pilots, and Air Force Pararescuemen that made up the ill-fated Task Force Ranger. Even the 10th Mountain Division and Pakistani U.N. Peacekeepers were mentioned and depicted respectively.

Of the many incredible stories of bravery and brotherhood that emerged from the day, one in particular stood out enough that two of the soldiers within would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for their heroism and sacrifice.

Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant had been trained at survival, evasion, resistance and escape school, but nothing could compare to the real experience of being captured and taken as a POW. Delta Force operators Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart sacrificed their lives in order to rescue him.

“I have tried to raise the bar on myself, elevate my game, do things that I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t had that experience,” he has said of the harrowing experience. “I’ve done a lot of things that stray outside the lines for me, but I did them because I realize I already have a second chance, I’m not going to have a third. So, I’m going to take full advantage of what’s been offered to me.”

Featured Image: The crew of Super 64 a month before the Battle of Mogadishu. From left: Winn Mahuron, Tommy Field, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank and Mike Durant.