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

Video
  • 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
    Graphics
    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
    Index
    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
    Inquirer

    Round 14

    dave usa
    i tried not to write but i cant keep hearing this garbage anymore. for those of us who where there i didnt care if ma bell got us out of there!!! unlike our brothers who never made it home, we did and we live with there memorys every day. god bless my friends who didnt come home!!!!
    Glenn D Drexel Hill, PA
    Rather than ask questions and second guess the ground forces, think about this. On 3&4 Oct 1993 a contingent of Americas finest soldiers (friends, husbands, brothers, uncles, sons), who volunteered to serve this country, went into battle and 18 paid the ultimate price. Why aren't people thanking all the men involved and their families for this?
    Eric Ruttencutter St. Louis, MO
    After the battle, Adm. Howe stated that Task Force Ranger could have shot Aidid on several occasions. Was this true? Also, the British SAS was given the opportunity to try and get Aidid but passed.Why?
    Mark Bowden
    I was not aware that Adm. Howe made this statement. So far as I know, it was never the intent of TFR to kill Aidid. I know Adm. Howe beleieved making Aidid a martyr might well have just worsened the situation. I was aware that SAS was approached about making an arrest of Aidid. This was at about the same time in the summer of '93 when the US government rejected Howe's request for Delta. I have no direct knowledge, but I suspect the British government rejected the request for similar reasons -- not wanting to pick sides in a Somali interclan feud, not wanting to escalate military involvement when the idea was to gradually pull out. MB

    open your eyes Columbus, GA
    In response to one of many comments made by a Jim Guelzow: When you say that the Rangers just "sat back" was not a very intelligent comment. What you must realize is that the members of Task Force Ranger had so far been fighting for 18 hours. So when an unfamiliar unit comes up and demands to take charge, of course they are going to be reluctant. You don't have a spec of knowledge of how the Ranger Battalion works so I would advise you to research your comments a little more before stating them.
    open your eyes Columbus, GA
    In Response to comments made by "sue": With all due respect, I really don't think you have any ground to stand on or knowledge of anything that goes on in the Special Ops community. You can not possibly make these comments having never served or will ever serve in a special operations unit. Enough said.
    R.S. U.S.A.
    To Glenn D. A growing number of people in the United States have no concept of what the military is about and do not care about what it does, what it stands for or for the sacrifices that any of its members have ever made throughout history. Espically in todays environment of liberal "there is no more cold war therefore no need for a military" not many care at all about anything the soldiers do and like nothing more than down talking those who are involved,and anyone in command. For Soldiers in the Special Operations Community it is part of the job to stand as a quiet professional and they all do it superbly. As for thanks to those men and their families, they were thanked by the people whose thanks mattered.
    J. Grierson St. Gallen, Switzerland
    An editorial comment: There is no noun "Somalian". Use Somali or Somalis. There is no adjective "Somalian". Use "Somali" or "Somalis". (e.g. " .. A Somali General .., the Somalis .... "). These are all-too-common errors in writings about Africa (e.g. referring to the people of Botswana as "Botswanans"). The unfortunate impression given is that the writer lacks even a superficial understanding of Africa and African realities. An impressive collection of generals and politicians have proven their ignorance (though lesser mortals paid in blood for their mistakes). It undermines your case to make such a crude error when writing about both groups. I'm sure Bob Oakley (who was US Amb. when I was living in Somalia) would not say (or write) "Somalians".
    Mark Bowden
    Although I make no claim to deep understanding of Africa, I do agree Somali is the more common adjectival form. The AP style book, however, which serves as the Bible for the Inquirer and many other newspapers in America, specifically calls for "Somalian." I have had many arguments with the paper on style issues over the years, and have lost them all. When you print a 5 million copies a week, you're like the 800 pound gorilla. I will use "Somali" as an adjective in the book. As for this being a "crude" mistake, with all the incumbent consequences you describe ... well, I gather they must take adjectival form a mite more seriously in the Alps than we do down here in the lower 48. MB

    Mark Rochester, Michigan
    Mark, Great story! From the newspaper accounts I read at the time of the incident, I had no idea how brutal that fight was. Quick question: Do you know if any of our soldiers had bullets stopped by the flak jackets they wore? How well would one of those flak jackets stop an AK round? Would the bullet bounce off? Leave a nasty bruise? Break a rib?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Mark. The flak vests appear to have done a good job, at least with those who had the armored plates in place and who did not, like Casey Joyce, get hit in the back (where there was no armor plate). I might be wrong about this (and feel sure someone will correct me here if I am) but the Kevlar vest can withstand the impact of small caliber rounds, although not a direct AK hit. I suspect the smaller round would be deflected or absorbed, depending on the angle, and that it could leave a nasty bruise or break a rib. I don't know of an instance in the battle where a soldier received a wound through the armored plate. All the torso wounds seem to have come from rounds that hit just under the plates or in the soldier's side between front and back plates. I have not specifically studied this, however, so you should not consider this a definitive answer. MB

    Robert Baronti Columbus, GA
    How do I get a copy of you two shows. Great Job!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. There was only one show, an hour-long documentary. You can order it by calling 1-800-440-1470. MB

    My Hero is Gen.Aideed Mogadisho
    If you thank to each other or not! if you call your self "a heros" or not! if you cry or not! if you tell the lies that you use to tell! = "YOU ARE OUT OF MY COUNTRY" and that is my biggest VICTORY!. Remember you didn't come to SOMALIA to help! you came to exercise! and got failed! and i hope you will never try to repeat your MISTAKES. SOMALIA = "GUUL"
    Mark Bowden
    And your victory prize is ... you get to live in Somalia! MB

    Brent M Trimble Salisbury, Maryland
    Will your book expose the media blackout that occurred following the engagement (orchestrated by David Gergen, I believe) including President Clinton's embarrassing trip to visit the critically wounded in a German Hospital? Bravo!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Brent. President Clinton visited the wounded at Walter Reed in DC. I know nothing of a Gergen-led media blackout, nor how such a thing would be accomplished. MB

    JM NY
    Wouldn't Aspin have been trodding on thin political ice to have disapproved the armor request without Clinton's approval/urging? I find it funny that the one guy who I see as most responsible was almost exonerated by this article. He put those idiots in power, he ordered the objective, he denied the armor, yet he was portrayed in this article as a stunned observer bearing no guilt. And why didn't you speak of Randall Shugart's father's opinion of him, and the incidents related to that?
    Mark Bowden
    Another conclusion one might draw is that the President should have paid more attention to what was going on in Somalia. As for Mr. Shughart's comments to the President, as I indicated in a much earlier round of questions, that incident occurred months after the battle, and was beyond of the scope of the newspaper series. It will probably be part of the book, due out in October, which deals with this whole story more comprehensively. MB

    Sue McLean, VA
    In response to "Open your Eyes"...since you don't know me, have no idea of my background...do you always make assumptions? I stand by my comments, but am always willing to be PROVEN incorrect...I have never and will never make any claim of having been in a battle...do not think anything I've said has been anything but grateful to ALL the heroic men who were in the Battle of Mogadishu...I think some of you are really protesting too much. I'd be curous as to why.
    Skulker Falls Church, VA
    For "Door gunner" from Dallas TX, the same GOP President who owned up to his responsibility as the Commander in Chief for the tragedy in Beirut in 1983 - Ronald Reagan. By the way, which (Dem) president continues to run from every heinous act he has ever committed? A. Wm. J. Clinton.
    Jim Guelzow Victor, NY
    "open your eyes" -- I hope you aren't one a Ranger tabbed cook or supply guy... Regardless, reread my postings. I never stated you guys sat back. But for the record, you weren't fighting for 18 hrs. prior to us coming out. (That would have brought the battle onto October 2nd). You all were out in broad daylight - something we experienced only for a couple of hours. You earned my respect.
    David M. Brea, CA
    Please read Chapter 13 of "At the Hurricanes Eye" by Greg Walker regarding Lack of support from AC-130 for SEAL team 4 in Operation Just Cause. A Lesson Brass should have learned the first time around.
    Mark Bowden
    Will do. MB

    Bob Macon, GA
    I don't think people quite understand the background between the 10th and 3/75. It goes back to when the 10th was at FT. Benning. We were just as hard core and just as good as 3/75 but without the respect the Rangers receved. I for one think what the Rangers did was very brave and sad that so very young men died. But don't put down the 10th. I bet you were glad to see them. Right of the line C 2/14 10 MT.
    1LT Cooper Fort Drum, NY
    Sir, great journalism! I would like to a clean copy (not internet) of this fantastic series, for use in officer professional development in my battalion; either digital or hardcopy. Could you please email me at afzs-eb-i@drum-emh4.army.mil, with the necessary information on how I might get this, or phone 315-772-8208.
    Mark Bowden
    Will do. If you check this here, you can order by calling 1-800-440-1470. MB

    former Infantryman Arlington, Va
    FOR "Open Your Eyes": Sue from Mclean may be asking questions that a lot of people would like the answers to. Why were some rangers badmouthing the 14th Inf guys who pulled them out of a "tight"? Don't think that the 36th Div's "lost bn" did the same to the 442nd Inf when they broke through to them in the Vosges. There has been a lot of uncalled for sniping here, and Yeah, it hasn't all been from rangers. So, open my eyes!! Tell us what prompted the personal attacks on Sue and Jim Guezlow. Perhaps you'd care to share YOUR credentials with us all. By the way, I read their comments.
    CDT John Ciccarello West Point, NY
    Mr. Bowden, Your future book should be required reading for EVERY American; not enough of them can comprehend the risks young men (and women)take so the US remains free. Rest assured that ALL future infantry officers from West Point will read it next fall (when we go to IOBC).
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, John. MB

    JD VA
    WHAT IS YOUR MAILING ADDRESS?
    Mark Bowden
    The Philadelphia Inquirer Foreign Desk 400 N. Broad Street, 2nd floor Philadelphia, PA 19101

    Glenn D Drexel Hill, PA
    To RS. Unfortunately you are probably right in that most people don't care or care to know what the military is about. But has everyone forgotten that without a good strong military, this country would not exist? Perhaps if our President, his cronies and the press would be supportive then more people would care. For anyone who thinks we don't need the military, take a look around the world! Regarding the soldiers involved in this or for that matter any operation. A simple thanks isn't much to give in return for people who put their life on the line for our freedom. So I say THANKS.
    CDT Ringhisen '99 West Point, NY
    Term Ends are upon us but when I got this e-mail in my in-box I was curious. Having been civilian at the time I didn't know too much on the incident. After reading your work I've learned a few things about us [the Army] and its operations. Thanks to all who put it together.
    Mark Bowden
    You are welcome. MB

    Steve Slater Columbus, Georgia
    Mark, I don't have a question. I would like to thank you for a great job you did in reporting this story. I lost some good friends in that battle (I left B co. 3rd Ranger Regiment before Somolia). Your story is the only one I have read that is close to the truth. Just one question. What about Sgt Mark Luhman, Spec Reese Teakell and Spec Danny Jackson? PS Did you get to interview John Burns he is from Philly?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Steve. Be talking to John soon. Never spoke with the others. MB

    Dimah1 U S of A
    My D-Boy son came home... Thank God, I thought, no wounds, I thought! He led his team, he did his job, He fought his way through day and night... He saved the lives of many that night. His courage and strength was a light through the night, After 18 hours, he limped back to base, And then got ready to go back out and fight.... His buddies, his friends.. What? Oh no! Oh God, they were dead! Yet some still alive? No wounds, I said? Just look in his eyes, theyšre haunted with pain, And sorrow and anger and grief and despair, His heart and his soul will they ever repair? But hešs not alone, so many the same...... Such Deadly Results!
    Dimah1 U S of A
    Thanks Mark ...a great job you have done in bringing the truth to all! Your book will be a tribute to all of our young men who fought and died, and to those who fought and live with heartache and pain, and to the families of all involved. May we all find peace in our own way. God Bless America! You are a fine journalist. Thank you!
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you ... and your son. MB

    R.S. U.S.A
    Glenn D. I know a whole bunch of soldiers who are appreciative of the the thanks expressed by the people who have read this article and by other American citizens who support the military as a whole. We would be much better off if a draft dodging, American protesting on foreign soil, lying SOB had not been elected to office( then again most military folks did not vote for him) But things may have turned out better if he had just smartened up and taken the advice that was probably given to him by very smart military people who had fought in wars themselves. You are very correct in saying that a thankyou is not very big when you risk your life for the very freedoms that we all enjoy and that people die in little boats to try to realize, but sometimes it is the only thing you have(realize that this is just now being publicized 4 years after the fact) and when you look into the eyes of a friend whose husband has been killed and still see that faith in beleifs he died for that pretty much says it all.
    Doug Macpherson Fairfax, VA
    Not a question, Mark, but a suggestion. Press a CD ROM of your on-line file and bundle it with the book. Actual production cost should be a dollar or so.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Doug. MB

    Jim Yun Marlton NJ
    To Jim Guelzow: thanks for the correction to my previous posting. It only shows that many news reporters make even less of an effort to double check the facts than I'd thought.
    Rick Massachusetts
    Mark: I don't care what anybody says, it should be made into a movie. Those brave Soldier deserve it. Rick
    rd nixon paducah, ky
    Where could i find a complete list of names and hometowns of participants to this battle. In an earlier q&a, mention was made of men from Clinton Il. This is also my hometown and i am interested in who these men are.
    Mark Bowden
    Only Dale Sizemore was from Clinton. MB

    Mike FL
    200 kia USMC and US flees lebanon effects plicy and prestige for years. 18 Rangers US flees Somalia ignore Rawanda. The question is it 18 or 200 KIA for US too Flee Bosinia. Clinton, state dept, and hand ringing politicans exposed troops and limited their firepower. Adeed's power was broken all we had to is bring in AC130s and M1A1s and go back down town. One or two more fights and he would have be so weak we could back off and the other warlords would hunt him and his supporters down and wipe them out. The Manchurian Candidate folded and put him on top. Garrison testmony was to cover up for the administration. The AC130 could see everything the P3 could but it has 105mm, 40mm cannons and 20mm gatling guns and can tellthe rangers from somalis. The Clintonistas sent it away and could have ordered back in 24hrs. Their incompetance, moral cowardice, and contempt for the soldiers who they scaraficed for nothing go unreported by the media and democrats in congress. why not acountablity for clinton?
    Mark Bowden
    You seem to have it all worked out. MB

    gordon ft benning, ga
    To Sue: I appreciate your comment about over generalization. Perhaps this is my perception of your comments. However, when looking back at chapters 20 and 24 I did notice that Paul Howe refers to Cpt Seele as a "big buffon." Would you not agree that this is Howe relaying to Mr Bowden how he feels about the Rangers. My question to you is--could this perhaps be Howe's bias creeping into the battlefield? If you agree please comment on why you didn't mention this bias in this open forum before. Could you comment if you don't agree? I understand that you are being careful about generalizing and I do appreciate your apology.
    Mark Bowden
    If I could interject here: Howe's feelings about Steele were not necessarily how he felt about all Rangers. MB

    lvuong@phlx.com Philadelphia, PA
    I would like to download the avi files of video clips, ,for example streetscenes.avi, I failed to locate the exact locations of these files, I can only see their links, i.e *.vdo
    Mark Bowden
    I'll refer this to Jen, the online genie. MB

    First, let me warn you that the AVI files are a bit rough, because they're meant to be streamed by VDO.

    You can download the AVI files on a Windows machine by:
    1. Right-clicking on the link to the video you want to watch
    2. Pull down to the "Copy this link" option
    3. Go to the URL/Address/Location bar above the screen and delete the current address
    4. Paste the VDO link
    5. At the end of the video link, delete .vdo and type in .avi

    For instance, the address of the Pentagon video of the raid would be
    http://vdo.phillynews.com/news/somalia/dodraid.avi
    rather than
    http://krvideo1.infi.net/realvideo/philly/blackhawk/DODRAID.ram

    It will take a long time to download these files as AVIs. Good luck. -- Online ed.

    Update 2/13/2009: For the DOD Raid video, please go to http://inquirer.phillynews.com/blackhawk/video_dodraid.asp


    Sue McLean, VA
    Hi Gordon...Had a feeling that "Open Your Eyes" just might have been you! I think you should go back and read most all that I've submitted over the course of this article. I'd like to remind you that I, from the very beginning, was upset over the inter-unit sniping. Why don't you use the Forum and we can talk in further detail? Or give me a mail ID and we can talk over mail...everyone else reading this is probably bored with the two of us!!
    Sue McLean, VA
    Gordon, to continue...I probably could elucidate further on my opinions re: "bias entering into the battlefield", but we don't have room in this forum. Send me an e-mail address and we can talk unless you're still of the opinion I couldn't possibly know anything about the subject. The only guess I've made about you is, as I said, is that you just might be Gordon "Open Your Eyes"...
    RM COLUMBUS,GA
    In responce to "GUUL" you are right about the U.S. pulling out, but as for the mission... It was completed with all cargo exfilled, and I only have one other thing to say.."BODYCOUNT"
    RM COLUMBUS, GA
    David, thank you for understanding about AC-130 and the support it provides. It would have been a big help. I just wish that those who make decisions in the future understand that special ops needs these assets to better complete their missions with minimal casualties.
    RM COLUMBUS, GA
    Sue, I have not read your origional position, or what it was that you were asking, but some of these men who were involved are still serving. I think some of the bitterness comes from people not knowing exactly what was going on over seas, and are touchy about the way the U.S. views them. If you were a Gulf War Vet, you came home a hero. These guys came home and basically got a pat on the back. Its their job, but this was the most intense combat seen since Viet Nam. And only now is the U. S. hearing about what went on. I say they have the right to be frustrated.
    kp NEW YORK
    I would just like to make a comment about phillip lepre. I just thought it was strange that some of the writing in chapter 25 was mostly from lepres point of view, and in reading some of the questions there was definitely more of a story from other people than just him. Is it because lepre is from philadelphia and easier to get his perspective on what happened???
    Mark Bowden
    I had to strictly limit my account of the 10th's rescue in the series. Phil was chosen because he had a dramatic story to tell, and was present at the death of Pvt. Martin, one of the most significant events in that part of the story. Aaron Ahlfinger, who lives in Colorado, was presented because he was with the portion of the convoy that got lost, and was there when Sgt. Houston was fatally wounded. Col. David, also in that story, spoke from Ft. Bragg, where he is now garrison commander. It was nice having Phil close by, but I have interviewed other soldiers from Philadelphia who have not appeared in the story. MB

    gordon ft benning, ga
    To Sue: Sorry to let you down--I'm not "open your eyes." I have a little more integrity than that. Feel free to e-mail me at gordonj@soc.mil. Your right, I think everyone is bored with our conversations.


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