Blackhawk Down
Analysis: How a relief mission ended in a firefight
Background: A defining battle leaves lasting scars

  • Today's video
  • Video categorized by speaker
  • Audio
  • Audio interview clips
  • Radio transmission clips
  • Photos
    Somalia: A Nation in Name Only
  • Introduction
  • Guns and fear
  • Daily living
  • The future

  • A Soldier's View
  • Maps
    Full text
  • The mailgram sent to Ranger Spec. Jamie Smith's parents
  • Gen. Garrison's letter about the events of Oct. 3
  • Who's who
  • Where are they now
  • Glossary
    Ask the author
  • Round 1 of Q&A
  • Round 2 of Q&A
  • Round 3 of Q&A
  • Round 4 of Q&A
  • Round 5 of Q&A
  • Round 6 of Q&A
  • Round 7 of Q&A
  • Round 8 of Q&A
  • Round 9 of Q&A
  • Round 10 of Q&A
  • Round 11 of Q&A
  • Round 12 of Q&A
  • Round 13 of Q&A
  • Round 14 of Q&A
  • Round 15 of Q&A
  • Round 16 of Q&A
  • Round 17 of Q&A
  • Round 18 of Q&A
  • Round 19 of Q&A
  • Round 20 of Q&A
  • Final notes on Q&A
  • About the series

    Round 10

    TruthMonger Bienfait, Saskatchewan
    Kudos to both yourself and the Inquirer. The WebSite that your work is on is first class. The WebSite is an example of what the InterNet can and should be. The same applies to your journalism. I am proud of the men who fight for their country, but ashamed of the political swine who make it all meaningless.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I really appreciate the opportunity to accept corrections afforded by this medium. Since I will be preparing a book about this for next fall, I can learn from my mistakes in the series. And this Q&A is also fun. MB

    Redleg Edison, NJ
    George Mannoe, welcome to an American forum of free speech.--Before you castigate American armed forces for being culturally insensitive, remember what nation's troops were videotaped beating and urinating on Somalian Nationals.
    Don Rolph Boston, MA
    I will my my congratulations on a story which needs to be told. Well done.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Don. MB

    Tim Davis Sioux Falls, SD
    Mark, you did your homework and you know it. Aside from a technical error here or there, no big deal. Guys, the story of Mog-town can't possibly talk about every single person on every single mission. C'mon. Since Charlie's Angels started in the '77-78 era, they've always enjoyed good support from (although there were birthing pains) from most federal branches. 1st SFOD-D and the Rat Bat,(a fond name for the rangers), many of whom are later recruited, work hand-in-hand. Many of you have already figured out that an 18 yr. old, 6 mos. time in service ranger candidate, who just happens to be in the 3rd Bat, and gets called up for duty, is NOT the same as a 10 year vet, ranger qualified, SF, and has been around the world a dozen times. FORGET THE LABELS! And no, Mark is NOT on 1st SFOD- D's payroll. He's relating the story. And he kicked ass. Eighteen Americans, the Cream of the Crop, Rangers, Delta Operators and Aviators were killed. Friends of mine, in Charlies and the the Rat Bat came home in body bags. Think about this. When you're doing a beach assault, and CNN is in your face with Goddamn Christmas lights. What the hell kind of
    Tim Davis Sioux Falls, SD
    Fantastic job, and you know it. I can tell you're proud of you're work, and you'll defend it. Hey, I've got your six. For a non-military, you did capture the essence. Even the cockiness, (which I always hated, but yet, it was there). Imagine this. A beautiful May morning. Jackie O's funeral at Arlington is that afertoon, and MOH awardee's is that morning. I'm sure the Prez has never met, and never will meet the likes of Randy's Dad, Herb Shughart. GO HERB!!!!
    Tim Davis SFSD
    C'mon guys. It hurt all of us. We wish it was was different. It won't be. Learn from it. IF WE DON'T, It's gonna happen again. Boys, I can't take anymore phone calls with bad news. TD
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks X3, Tim. MB

    Don Rolph Walpole, MA
    I would like to commend you on what I perceive may be a new trend in journalism. By going on line, and have a feedback forum, it would appear that the accuracy of your work is dramatically improved. Excellent use of the new technology!! One nit, I would reco9mmend use of AU and MPEG for sound and video. It is more standard and can be accessed through more firewalls. Good work!
    Mark Bowden
    I'll pass that to Jennifer. MB

    We chose to use VDOLive and Real Audio because the files compress to a fraction of what they would be as MPEGs and AU files, and can stream so that the reader doesn't have to download an entire file before watching/listening. We may present the clips in other formats later. -- Online ed.

    Joe Alameda, CA
    Heard the story on NPR (12/6/97) this morning. Thanks for the excellent Web coverage. Why weren't MC-130 "Combat Talons" deployed in this operation?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Joe & I don't know. MB

    kelii gurfield seattle, wa
    Will this series be available on a CD-ROM or something? I'd buy it if it were.
    Mark Bowden
    I think it will be, Kelii. The Online people have had a very strong response to this series, and I know are contemplating marketing it on CD. Keep your eye on this Web site. MB

    Ed Starnes Conowingo, Maryland
    Great series! You are doing a great job of getting the public to understand how little they know about today's military and the situations they must deal with, especially the politics that sometimes over ride good common sense. One correction: I believe SGT Joyce's father is a retired ARMY Infantry/Public Affairs lieutenant colonel.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Ed. And you are correct about Larry Joyce, who gently pointed out the error to me and we are fixing it. We should have fixed it sooner. Mr. Joyce did point out, jokingly, that in his book an Army Lt. Col. and a Marine Col. are "probably roughly equivalent." MB

    Mark Jackson San Antonio, TX
    Hey, just wanted to write and thank you for the work you're doing on this, I was a medic on the rescue convoy and for years now have been trying to find all the info I can about this... If you need any help, I can try to answer questions, and I have ALOT of pictures, some from the triage after the battle at the Pakistani stadium... Again, Great job!
    Mark Bowden
    I would like to talk to you, Mark. Give me a call at 215-854-2400. Soon. Thanks. MB

    PW Taszar, Hungary
    Mark, as one of the eight Little Bird Gun guys (6 Guns) that flew 17 hours that night, I get the feeling your readers may get the idea we fired at anything and everything indiscriminately. I assure you that is not the case and the absence of fratricide will attest to that. The calls for fires from the guys on the ground were well planned and if the target required rockets they received rockets otherwise they got only mini-guns. NSDQ, 6 Guns Don't Miss.
    Mark Bowden
    I have heard nothing but grateful praise for you guys from everybody who was on the ground, about your heroism, dedication and amazing accuracy and flying ability. From the Somali perspective, it certainly did seem like the Little Birds were everywhere that night. If I have conveyed the impression you shot indiscriminately then I have erred. I will try to make it very clear. MB

    Rob Ft Bragg
    Mark, excellent series, get up early every morning to read the next chapter. Have you interved anyone from the 5th SF Group? I don't know what part they played but I know several soldiers from 1/5 were awarded medals for bravery.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Rob. I have not spoken to anyone from that unit, but would like to. My number is 215-854-2400. MB

    Ghost-02 Eielson AFB, AK
    Know why TFR wanted AC-130 Spectre gunship coverage? Orbiting overhead, Spectre's sensors identify unseen threats to the friendlies, then eliminate them with surgical firepower -- the ideal urban fire support platform. Works equally well escorting convoys. The shooters love packing Spectre in their mo-bags. Aspin screwed 'em bad.
    Mark Bowden
    I have heard many of the veterans involved in the fight say much the same thing. I have heard others, also knowledgable, say that in a densely-populated urban area the AC-130 could not deliver the same accuracy as the Little Birds, and that collateral damage was minimized by using the AH-6s as the platform. I don't know what the answer is. In his Senate hearing, Gen. Garrison indicated that the Little Birds provided more than adequate fire support with extraordinary flexibility. MB

    Vince Audubon,NJ
    A suggested link for your other this is the unofficial PJ site.
    Mark Bowden
    Jennifer will take note. MB

    We've added it to the "Other Resources" page. Thanks. -- Online ed.

    Bravo Zulu Mark . What were the SEALS doing in on this? Did the D-Boys hold the disdain for them as they did for the Rangers?
    Mark Bowden
    The SEALs were in a vehicle in the ground convoy that moved directly to the target house. That's where John Gay and Howard Wasdin were injured. They fought through the maze with the lost convoy, and probably went back out with the rescue convoy later in the night, although I'm not sure. I have heard them spoken of with respect and admiration by all of the soldiers I interviewed. MB

    R.S. Seattle, Washington
    Mark, I like your article. I read some of your mail about the "D-boys" acting in their own self interest. Well to all of you who say that and who were not there. Shut up you know nothing of what you speak.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, RS. MB

    DJ2 Fayetteville, NC
    No Rivalry existed between Rangers and D-boys. See Clint's message in the forum for details. Seals did an outstanding job, could have used more of them.
    John Peteraf Phila.
    Didn't warlord Aidid have a son in the U.S. military ?
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. That would be Hussein Aidid, who now purports to be the "President of Somalia" and is, at least in name, leader of the Habr Gidr. He went to Somalia as a US Marine with UNISOM. Michael Maren, the author of "The Road to Hell" wrote an interesting story about Hussein, which is available on the Nomad Net. MB

    tp ny,ny
    Mark: how much of the P-3 video of Oct 3rd has the pentagon declassified and made available to the public? Is there any way of obtaining that info?
    Mark Bowden
    As far as I know, very little of it has been released. You could find out through the Pentagon's public affairs office, 703-697-5737. MB

    Michael Wise San Francisco, CA
    To what degree do you feel the way we entered Somalia (via amphibious assault forces with CNN TV crews filming it all) to start off our "humanitarian" mission set the tone for the rest of our involvement there as well as how we were perceived/treated by the locals?
    Mark Bowden
    I'm not an expert on this, Michael, but I don't think the dramatic landing had much impact on the events that unfolded in Oct., '93. The Marines' mission was a success. They were greeted with much enthusiasm and friendliness by most Somalis, and were pulled out in March of '93. TFR arrived in last August, with a much different mission in mind. See my introductory article, and check out the analysis piece which will run next Sunday. MB

    Michael Wise San Francisco, CA
    I think a great addition to your book (as well as ending to the on-line version)would be to include a small photo of each of the 18 U.S. servicemen killed on this mission. Next to the photo, you could write a very brief caption: name, age, hometown, reason for joining the military, and dream in life. Time (or Newsweek) did this after Desert Storm...and it brought tears to my eyes by putting a human face to those who fell doing what they were ordered to do...right or wrong.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks for the excellent suggestion. MB

    Scot Fort Bragg, NC
    OK, I've read about a Delta CPT and a Ranger CPT on the ground together. Who was the ground commander??? Even if the mission had gone exactly as planned, I imagine that one of them must have been in charge but with everything falling apart, the need for unity of command even seems more necessary. Great reading, Mark
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Scot. There was some disagreement, clearly, over who was in charge overall on the ground. I don't think mission planning envisioned an intermingling of the D-boys and Rangers. Both Steele and Miller were captains. As I understand it, Miller felt he was in command. Steele did not see it that way. MB

    LCDR I. Elson Washington DC
    Not a question but a comment. This story was oneof the best accounts I have read, thank you. Is there a way to get the whole series in one file? Perhaps as an Adobe Acrobat file? LCDR I. Elson US Navy
    Mark Bowden
    I'll refer this one to Jennifer, the online wizard. MB

    Stay tuned. We may put out a CD. I doubt we'd compile everything into an Acrobat file, but you never know. -- Online ed.

    Dimah1 Everytown, US of A
    Mark-Great truth in your series! You took the risk,envision success!Tim DavisSFSD,you echo my thoughts,and are so right. Thanks! D-John,stay safe. Mark, NatlPBS Air date?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. No air date yet, but we've got 'em in a full court press. Keep watching this space. MB

    L. Matson West Chester, PA
    Who's Who lists "Spec. Kevin Snodgrass, a rifleman assigned to Chalk Four." but audio of Matt Eversman says "Sgt. Snodgrass, who was my machinegunner..." I haven't been through all the Q&A yet, so maybe you've dealt with this, but also wanted to ask how long this site will be online.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. We've fixed the Who's Who. Sorry for the mistake. The site will be here indefinitely ... for a long, long time. MB

    Mark Kundinger Denver, CO
    Hi Mark. I just thought that cahpter 20 was great. It's important to get an idea of *why* is seems that the entire city of Mogadishu was against the Americans. Will you be expanding on this any in the series or book?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Mark, and yes. The book will be about three times longer than the series, and will cover all aspects of the story in greater depth. MB

    Tom Flamminio London England
    Thanks for a fine series. I have told the MOD webmaster and hopefully she will put in a link on the resources page.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Tom. The international instantaneous nature of this is heady. MB

    Steve McKee Avondale, Pa
    Since you have done such an commendable job on this compelling story, you are officially excused from the tennis practices you missed this summer. From here on in, though, there are no excuses and we expect to see you back. Congratulations, Mark!! e-mail
    Mark Bowden
    Phew! I was worried about that. Thanks, Steve. I'll try to be less busy next summer. MB

    Vgoetz Napa, Ca.
    Heard about your work on NPR, after several hoours must report that your work is impressive. Look forward to seeing the PBS program and the book. Excellent journalism!!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. Look for the book in the Fall of '98. Grove/Atlantic is publishing it. MB

    anonymous washington
    Mark, the medic you describe with SPC Smith is SFC Kurt Schmid in case you wanted to know names.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you very much. He made a magnificent effort on Smith's behalf, and I'm glad to be able to name him. MB

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