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 18

    J Langdon Sgt USMC
    Q&A 6 asked about fast-movers: A:- Fixed-wing (jet) attack aircraft, so the Rangers and D-Boys would have had to make it a more "joint" operation to get fixed-wing aircraft from the Air Force or Marines.
    J Langdon Sgt USMC
    Additionally, to roll a fast-mover in, the helicopters would have to be moved off-target first, allowing the Somalis a chance to move in closer on the ground. Jets can't see straight down an alley the way a door-gunner can.
    J Langdon Sgt USMC
    Outstanding series! As a Marine Sergeant and Desert Storm veteran, this piece answers many questions we raised about the awarding of Medals of Honor in "a dust-bowl country." Apologies to those whose heroism and valor I have unknowingly questioned.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, sergeant. MB

    DGBrown Katterbach, Germany
    Mark, Did you happen to know that unfortunatly, the 1st "Blackhawk Down" was from the 9-101st Avn, in Sept of that year? -- also shot down by an RPG.
    Mark Bowden
    Yes, I did know. There will be more mention of the incident in the book. Thanks. MB

    B Cooper Wichita, Ks
    Your series was excellent. The courage of these soldiers under fire was equal to that displayed by US soldiers from Valley Forge to Omaha Beach to Al-Jabial. It only makes one hope that the President will listen to others, like Bob Dole, who have been there before spending young lives like this again in the pursuit of nation building. I hope your son remains safe and out of harms way! BAR NONE!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Rick Chandler, Arizona
    Why didn't the US declare war on Somalia after these events? With the full might of the US military machine this outlaw nation could have been wiped clean and rebuilt into perhaps a nice vacation destination, (they do have very nice beachs.)
    Mark Bowden
    Lots of sharks, though. As I understand it, Mogadishu had slaughterhouses along the beachfront for many years, nurturing quite a crop of shallow water feeders. MB

    Rick Eagan, MN
    Do you mention the action of a 12 man SEAL detachment in the rescue operation? The Navy broke with the usual tradition of secrecy by publicly recognizing five members of the team with Silver Stars presented by President Clinton at the White House.
    Mark Bowden
    Some of the actions of John Gay, Homer Nearpass, Howard Wasdin and others are in the newspaper series and there will be more in the book. I was aware they were decorated, Rick. As of now I'm planning to have a more complete accounting of awards in the book, due out this October, Atlantic Monthly Press. MB

    Chew Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Thank you for a riveting account, and I hope to be able to read more of the American account of the Malaysian efforts in the battle. The APC Malaysian driver who was killed was posthumously awarded the Malaysian "Pingat Gagah Berani", the equivalent of your Medal of Honour. As a member of the Malaysian armed forces, I don't think that there was any need for Lt Col David to replace our men in the APC with his "better trained soldiers". I think our men would have done as well if not better. We are the only army in the world to have beaten the communists in the jungle in Malaya after a 12 year war!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Chew. I know the soldiers I interviewed remain very grateful for the heroism of your brothers in arms. MB

    Russell Harom Seattle, WA
    Why VDOLive? What an awful format..
    Mark Bowden
    We're sorry if you've had a problem with it. MB

    J. Bullinger Fort Rucker, AL
    A: Mark Bowden I would like to speak with Col. Matthews, and did speak briefly with his wife. If you could help arrange an interview with him and/or Col. Lawrence, I would appreciate it. MB Reply Back: Mark, I was asking because I didn't see their names mentioned. I commanded a UH-1 Company in Hondo/El Sal in 90-91, but was never approached for an article Soldier of Fortune magazine wrote on one of my aircraft being shotdown. The published story (Jun 93) was full of half truths, exaggerations, and poor third-person details. I just wanted to make sure Matthews and Lawrence had their opportunity to contribute to your great piece of work. Thanks, Jim
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Jim, and I have now met with Col. Matthews. MB

    david james new york
    Wonderful story! When's the movie being made? Have you been approached for the film rights?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, David. There has been some interest expressed. MB

    WC Addison Corpus Christi, TX
    Wonderful book-reminds me of -We Were Solders Once and Young-. Could you be more specific than Alpha Co. of the 10th Mtn Div? there may be as many a a dozen Alpha Companies in the 10th. Many of their parent regiments carry a lot of history in their names. Thank You.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. It's 2-14 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division. MB

    Charlie Gaytan Chandler, Arizona
    Fantastic story. I'm glad someone still knows how to tell it like it is, no B.S. required. Has the military taken any steps to improve it's communications. Talk about data overload. This book should be required reading for all military personal.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Charlie. I don't know what steps have been taken in the aftermath of 10/3-4/93. I have been getting a lot of requests to come speak before various military groups, so there's plenty of interest in the topic. MB

    Billy Arizona
    Mark: I really admire your series, tho the Arizona Repugnant clipped it to 27 parts and never informed the readers that 3 were missing. My question: in 1996, I believe, I talked to a DOD official who said the army had made a conscious decision further to diminish marksmanship training "because it personalizes killing." Obviously, this flies in the face of the Somalia experience, where smallarms proficiency was badly needed. Have you heard anything about the army policy or reactions from SpecOps guys? Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    I have not. I know the men of TFR were grateful for the weeks of practice they'd had prior to this mission, and more than one has told me that marksmanship saved his life. MB

    Alan Johnson Monte Sereno, CA
    Oh, I know this is a dumb question, but is the title of your book going to be 'Blackhawk Down?" Is someone taking advanced orders? Great job, I'm looking forward to the book.
    Mark Bowden
    It will be "Black Hawk Down," three words, given that I was informed by a reader that the name of the helicopter in question is Black Hawk, after the Indian chief, not Blackhawk, after the tribe. This choice bit of correct information came too late, unfortunately, to undo the error in the newspaper series or web site (it's embedded in the graphics), but we'll get it right in the book. You could call Grove/Atlantic at 212-614-7910 and I suspect they'd take an advance order. The book is due out in October. I've just got to finish writing it. MB

    Alex Sunnyvale California
    Mark: Why couldn't the Marine's be involved in this mission? Do the D-Boys have any Marines in their ranks? A comando force with Ranges, Marines (Force Recon) and D-boys would be unstoppable.
    Mark Bowden
    The Marines had the lion's share of UNOSOM I., so maybe that's why they weren't part of the assault force. There were Marines at the airport compound, but none in combat, so far as I know. Delta is strictly an Army unit. MB

    John Gearing Clifton Park, NY
    Great Story. In "World's Most Dangerous Places" authors contend conflict with Aidid was fueled by then Gen' Sec UN who had personal axe to grind. Any truth to that? Also, isn't it odd that Aidid's son was a US Marine in Somalia? I conclude that mission was Lexington & Concord all over again but with gunships this time around. Lessons learned?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, John. I have heard stories about the supposed antipathy between Ghali and Aidid, and some of the Somali Habr Gidr I interviewed believe the whole UN intervention was a plot by Ghali to reinstate their despised rival clan, the Darod (Siad Barre's outfit). I don't doubt that Ghali had it in for Aidid, lots of people did, especially after he started killing UN peacekeepers. The UN resolution that outlawed Aidid and put a price on his head was authored primarily by the US State Department. Ghali went along with it, but was not the driving force. US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright was a major supporter of efforts to get Aidid, as was Jonathan Howe in Mogadishu, and the State Department people there. As for young Hussein Aidid, now heir to his father's clan, I believe he just happened to be in the Marines at the time. It wasn't that odd. Hussein grew up in California, and like many young men emerging from their teens with no clear career goals in mind, the military was a likely step. I doubt he or anyone foresaw the US military action in Somalia when he enlisted. I believe, having inherited the clan in Mog, young Hussein is currently AWOL. MB

    Mike F. Hong Kong (US Citizen)
    I think that there is one thing that needs to be said. We went in with good intentions, but then our political leaders decided to take sides in a civil war against a leader who was clearly supported by a large portion of the population. He and they then fought back with a courage and determination that is frankly astounding. We can be proud of the skill and power that resulting in a casualty ratio of 1000 to 18, but what about the courage of thousands of mostly untrained people who continued to fight despite that incredible level of carnage? Does anyone out there think that American civilians in an American city would fight anywhere near as bravely and aggressively against an invader? I think that you should address this. We can dislike the Somalis, but we should also respect them. Mike
    Mark Bowden
    I agree, Mike. The book will have more to say about the Somalis. Bear in mind, however, that the courage they displayed was in defense of a warlord who had no compunctions about slaughtering and starving his own people to achieve power. Brave, yes, noble ... no way. MB

    Rich McDowell Columbus, Ga.
    Just read your praise of SLA Marshall. You've got him beat. He often wrote to support false premises.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Rich. MB

    CPT Mike Ryan RJA, 160th SOAR(A), FTCKY
    Happened on this site and thought you might be interested in the fate of SFC (now SPC) Ray Dowdy. he was recently tried and convicted by a General Court-Martial here at Ft Campbell for a number of crimes. If you would like more info give me a call @(502) 798-1916. CPT Mike Ryan, Regiment Judge Advocate, 160th SOAR(A)
    Brian St. Charles, Il.
    When will you be printing out the next chapters, and how long are you expecting the book to be?
    Mark Bowden
    The newspaper series on this Web site is complete. No more chapters coming. The book will be about three times the length of the series. MB

    Gus R.F., WI
    As a former combat Marine I enjoyed your story, part- icularly the amount of information you have gathered. Well Done! As I was reading I could not help but to feel the same frustration those men must have felt for the lack of support they did not received when it was most needed. To the Fallen Men and those still with us....... Ooh-Rah!! God be with the Families of those beloved Men.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Gus. MB

    Gus R.F., WI
    As a former combat Marine I enjoyed your story, partcularly the amount of information you have gathered. Well Done! As I was reading I could not help but to feel the same frustration those men must have felt for the lack of support they did not received when it was most needed. To the Fallen Men and those still with us....... Ooh-Rah!! God be with the Families of those beloved Men. To Alex-The Marine Corps is a different branch of service. The D-Boys (Delta Force) and Rangers are units within the Army. SEAL's are members of the Navy's elite fighting force. Please remember this for future reference.
    Steve Moran Manahawkinn, NJ
    First of all, Wow! Not just the story, but the entire package. As an Army vet, reporter, Web designer and now teacher it astounds me at too many levels to discuss here. I will be teaching an advanced reporting class at Rutgers New Brunswick this semester and plan to use it as a case study. Any chance you or one of the online staff could visit us?
    Mark Bowden
    We would be honored. You can reach me thru 215-854-2400, and Jennifer, the Online genie, at 215-854-4474. MB

    Dawn Kilpatrick Fort Bragg, NC
    Enjoyed your series, but wonder why you did not talk with key military people such as MAJOR Dave Stockwell, UN Spokesman, or Lieutenant General Thomas Montgomery, US Deputy Military Commander and senior US Officer during the 3/4 Oct 93 Ranger Raid.
    Mark Bowden
    The focus of my story is on the events of 10/3-4/93, and was primarily told from the ground up, so my priority has been to talk with soldiers who fought in the streets. I have spoken with officers on the command staff of the QRF, but never worked my way all the way up to Montgomery. While the ranking US officer in Mogadishu, I think he could tell you that Garrison and his chain of command were entirely separate from his, and were primarily responsible for the assault and subsequent gunfight. I made some early efforts to contact Montgomery without success (he was in Brussels) and I did submit, more than a year ago, a Freedom of Information request for Montgomery's After Action Report, and despite repeated promises the Army has yet to deliver it. When I had success pursuing other avenues, I pursued them more vigorously. I would be happy to speak to either of these two men, but at the moment am bumping up against a deadline. MB

    Timothy Crowe Minneapolis MN
    Thanks for your account. I arrived in Somalia on OCT 14, in response to the battle. It's a story that needed to be told. Disturbing how even our most elite can fall victim to command and control problems. Hope it does not happen in Bosnia. Thank you.
    Mark Bowden
    You're welcome, Tim. MB

    Tim Cincinnati, OH
    I have corresponded with Col. Hackworth before, so last week I sent his office an email informing them of this site. I was sure that they had already been told, but apparently not. I recieved a response saying that Hack had just looked into it with great interest. More to follow. Thank you for this effort. I am dumbfounded at the respect that a member of the media is showing the young soldiers who assume great risks. I had become too used to the snobbery and resentment exhibited by journalists, which the military folks have had to face since Viet Nam. The socio-economic and cultural gap, that has existed in this country since WWII, between those who serve and those that they serve, would be ideal topic for a future piece. Please consider it. God Bles You.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Tim. MB

    collett ,john Ft. Bragg NC
    I have a lot of info from the super 66 bird i was on that bird i have a 14 page diary i wrote after the mission. I can be reached at 910-494-6532
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch. MB

    Collett, John Ft. Bragg NC
    You are missing the hole super 66 story wich is a big part or chalk 3 as you call it where is my PSG input Sean Watson? we were the hole south side security for the first crash site some good men got killed an wounded there where is that story? please call me for our side of the story. John M Collett SSG, IN USA (910) 494-6532 or (910) 493- 2347 Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    If you read on, John, you'll see Sgt. Warson is in the story. MB

    Dan Phelps Amston, CT
    A riveting story. Very well written.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Dan. MB

    Larry Hemstreet Menlo Park, Calif
    I was compelled to read your story because in 1969 I was a helicopter CrewChief during that other "conflict". The story you told as a uniquely heroic tragedy may have embittered many VietNam Vets such as myself. You see we experienced on a daily basis every event you described in your narrative. Our nightmare was every mission we flew. please respond.
    Mark Bowden
    I have not heard from anyone embittered, Larry. The Vietnam experience has hardly been neglected in our literature. I'll be in touch. MB

    R.S. U.S.A.
    Col. Hackworth is a disgruntled, meanspirited, lying about his own "supposed" service record and awards, pig. He criticized good brave men making spur of the moment decisions, as the arm chair quarterback that he is, and does not deserve to comment or participate in any reading or appreciating of any of the events having to do with October 3-4, you should have left him in the dark Tim, the world is a better place if that is where he stays.
    Ron Sapp Mukilteo, Wa 98275
    Mark, thank you for the great great article, I commend you and hope others will too. My son is an 11 year Blackhawk Pilot US ARMY, going to Bosnia in February..These men are so Special and Elite...Am a former Green Beret Viet Nam, I understand it all...Thank you so much. Ron Sapp.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you and your son, Ron. MB

    Haydn Fort Bragg, NC
    Great series. I feel that Mike Steele doesn't get the credit he deserves in attempting to maintain control of his company. He, unlike Delta, did not have the luxury of commanding an element comprised exclusively of NCOs and officers. CPT (now Major) Steele is my boss. He is one of the most disciplined and professional officers I have had the pleasure to work with. I for one, have full confidence in his leadership abilities.
    Mark Bowden
    I share your respect for Maj. Steele and am grateful for his substantial help and reconstructing this story. MB

    Steve Moran Manahawkin NJ
    Thanks for getting back to me about the Rutgers class. I called the number you gave me, and the person who answered said you were on vacation and had no way to get in touch with you. If you get this, can you respond to me at I did get Jennifer's voice mail and am also sending her an e-mail Thanks. Steve
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch, Steve. Sorry you had trouble reaching me. MB

    Response to Haydn FBNC
    The only credit Maj. Steele deserves is for mucking up his Ranger Company. This is why he is pushing a desk in the 82nd and not the Ranger Regiment. The Special Operations Officer Corps did not want to send up a flag indicating one of their own had screwed up and quietly shipped him off. Talk to some of the men who had served under him in Somalia and their view will differ from yours. Rangers are probably safer with him in a Staff Position.
    John T. Scott Augusta, Maine
    THIS IS NOT A QUESTION... I just wanted to thank you for the superbly written articles appearing in the "Blackhawk Down" series. They truly moved me, and gave me a new understanding of the realities of war.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, John. MB

    Jason Leone San Jose, Ca
    After spending four months in Mogadishu as a Sergeant in the Marine corps during this time, I felt a sense of helplessness and anger. Thankful that I made it out of there. I'm proud of your justified exposure of this untold story of American bravery, and survival. Thank you.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Jason. MB

    John L Knoxville, TN
    Great piece of writing. The Ranger NCO's seem to be shortchanged somewhat in this narrative, mainly by omission. I expect that this just reflects the interview pattern. I hope that you can fill this gap in the book (which I look forward to buying).
    Mark Bowden
    You'll find more about the actions of Eversmann, Watson, Lamb and others in the book. MB

    Taylor Cambridge, Mass
    Just two quick corrections to a previous answer. You told Alex from Sunnyvale that "The Marines had the lion's share of UNISOM I ..." The acronym should be UNOSOM (UN Operation in Somalia - O for operation), and all the soldiers in that operation were from Pakistan. The Marines had the lion's share of UNITAF (United Task Force, aka Operation Retore Hope), which came between UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I sometimes get lost in the great forest of acronyms. MB

    Great series. Absolutly riviting. I loved the way these heros could still find time to laugh against such odds. Can hardly wait for the movie. Sort of like Hamburger Hill.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Sgt Kraig Strapko Mankato, Minn
    As a former Vietnam vet and Special Forces soldier, I was both intrigued and appalled at what I read. I hate to see men put in impossible situations with nothing to gain in the end...just like Vietnam.
    Clay "Little Hunter" Wichita, Kansas
    Mark, I finally made my way to a computer linked up to the www. My dad said he talked with you not too long ago. I would like to talk with you soon. Please contact me whenever you get the opportuntity. Thanks - Clay
    Mark Bowden
    Will do, Clay. MB

    Francine & Gary Milan Newark, California
    We started reading the series in the S. Jose Mercury News and we are now reading it on your website. It has been very interesting reading. We missed the program when it was on Dec. Will it be shown again?
    Mark Bowden
    The documentary will be shown nationally, but still, sorry, we have no air date. The latest is that CNN might show it on the fifth anniversary. You can order a copy now at 1-800-440-1470. MB

    Scott,2ndBCo. Rockville, MD
    Many of the D-boys were once Rangers, why was there so much bad mouthing.Why wasn't Delta given full control of the operation.Two captains in charge of two independent groups seems foolish and problems occured because of the breakdown/confusion in command.It seems we wern't prepared properly for the worst.
    Mark Bowden
    In the story you get some of the raw impressions of soldiers under fire. I don't think, in retrospect, that any of these units had serious official complaints about each other as a whole. In the heat of the fight, more experienced NCOs were impatient with younger, less experienced men, and the somewhat different concerns of the two commanders came into conflict in ways that were not foreseen. That's how I see it. MB

    Scott, BCo.2nd Bat. Rockville, MD
    I worked with both Sgt. First Class Rierson and Shughart, both excellent soldiers. Sgt. Randy Shughart will always be held in the highest of honors. Did Sgt. Rierson survive the battle in Somalia?
    Mark Bowden
    Matt Rierson did survive the battle, only to be killed in a mortar attack several days later. MB

    RangerScott Rockville, MD
    In the story, one D-boy talks about putting on civilian clothes and going back out to find the target. Did Delta have enough time to properly scout out the region and know exactly what the were up against? Did they assume the best w/out preparing for the worst? Was it the higher ups who had too much faith and not enough brains?
    Mark Bowden
    Going out into the city as civilians was part of the effort to track down and recover the bodies of dead comrades and also to find Mike Durant. I think Somalia posed some serious problems for intelligence, but there were successes as well as failures. MB

    jim clabaugh san jose ca
    no question, just thanks for a tremendous piece of reporting. this is truly the best thing i've seen in a newspaper and on a web site. i can't read it all at once because of the emotions it fosters. every american should read this to feel the commitment of our military. i hope pres. clinton and his wife have read it.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Jim. MB

    Mike H Arlington, Tx
    I am greatly impressed by your research and by your ability to tell a story. Dispite the excellent title, however, I cannot help wondering why you didn't use an even more compelling one: "Day of the Rangers"
    Mark Bowden
    I toyed with that one. Also Ma-alinti Rangers, which is how they say it in Mogadishu. We liked BHD because it gets right to the heart of the thing. MB

    Steve Keane Chgo., ILL
    Mark: I've marked the page - I'll read it as I can. Looks exciting with all the maps and audio. I'll pass it on to the Tribune digital cities people. Although I know Knight Ridder and Tribune are "tied at the hip". Bye.-- Steve Keane
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, cuz. Keep in touch. It was great seeing you and Marty and Nails this weekend. MB

    Oz Fairfax, Virginia
    Has this series, or will it, been put in for a Pulitzer? You are truly deserving of that award. Has a date and time been set for the documentary? I would really appreciate it if you would get back to me on these two questions. Thank you.
    Mark Bowden
    I believe the Inquirer will be nominating this story for prizes, along with a lot of other very fine work done by this newspaper last year. No date and time yet for the documentary. Sorry. MB

    Mark, the name of the helicopter in your article is Blackhawk. One word not 2 as someone has tried to tell you. I have worked on them for over 14 years so I think I know the correct name. Thanks for the article. It was very well written and I appreciate the effort you have put into it. I was invovled in the mission your article is about and I must say it is the most factual article to date I have read.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I think you and I were both mistaken about Black Hawk. Jane's All the World's Aircraft says it's two words, as does Sikorsky, who makes them. I learned too late to change it for the series. MB

    To Cpt. Mike Ryan the RJA for the 160th SOAR: You sir are the typical ticket punching captain the 160th always seems to get. All you are concerned with is punching the right tickets for your career. Your comment about Ray Dowdy's legal problems has nothing to do with this article what so ever. The article deals with the actions of Oct 3rd & 4th and nothing else. So the next time you feel you need to submit something irrelevant to the article do us all a favor, DON'T.

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