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 3

    Tom Hunter Newport Beach, CA 11/21/97 6:16:12 PM
    Mark - Just wanted to say that yours is the most complete non-classified account I've yet read on TF Ranger. Sincerely, Tom Hunter Editor, Special Operations Journal
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:37:09 PM
    Thanks, Tom. It means a lot to me that folks like yourself approve. MB

    Guy Ghisu upperDarby ,Pa. 11/21/97 7:31:46 PM
    Hello Mike, I would like to say that this series had me glued to the newspaper .I remember when I first saw news footage back then,your writing pulled those events and feelings together in a powerful way.You should get a pullitzer prize for
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:37:09 PM
    Thanks, Guy. MB

    John Philly Pa 11/21/97 8:22:03 PM
    Excellent series, reminds me of 'Nam
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:40:45 PM
    Thanks MB

    Delta John Bragg 11/21/97 8:47:53 PM
    Comment: Having positively identified your delta source for interview, I (for what it's worth) assure you of his credibility and, really, you couldn't have found a better guy to relay the accounts. Here's to "Steave"!
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM

    James R. Keller Taylorsville, UT 11/21/97 11:22:14 PM
    I lkistened to one of your audio and it had a SSG saying that they would not hurt there own. This is a incorrect statement. Not that he is wrong for beleiveing in but this just shows that the Rangers did not know the Somalia's like we did.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:40:45 PM
    There was an incident in Mogadishu earlier in the summer where Aidid's militia allegedly fired on some of their own people in order to create an embarassing incident they could blame on the UN. I don't know if it is true. Admiral Jonathan Howe, the top UN official in Mog at the time says it happened. On the other hand, as you will read later this week, when the convoy returning Somali prisoners encountered fierce shooting, killing and wounding many American soldiers, the 24 prisoners crammed on the back of a flatbed truck received relatively few casualties. Remarkably so. It suggests to me that the Somali shooters were picking their targets. MB

    Dr. Jim Soos Tinton Falls NJ 11/22/97 10:20:28 AM
    Worked with Delta guys during Iran. Was it true that Les Aspin ordered most of the heavy weapons stripped off most of the platforms (air and gnd) before they were sent over. Have heard those stories from guys in the field. Tks.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:44:41 PM
    Aspin turned down force requests for Bradley fighting vehicles and the AC130 Spectre gunships, a decision that was roundly criticized after the battle. Many of the men who fought believe that armor and the gunships would have saved lives. On the other hand, Gen. Garrison testified before the Senate that it is unlikely either armor or gunships would have made a difference. Garrison and other brass were clearly prepared to undertake missions without them. There is a strong element of Monday morning quarterbacking about the issue. Aspin lost his position at Defense in part because of the decision. The debate will be examined further near the end of this series, and at length in the book version of this story. MB

    Bob Philadelphia Pa 11/22/97 12:15:53 PM
    Spent time with the 75th Ranger detachment in Vietnam. Your
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM

    Bob Philadelphia Pa 11/22/97 12:17:56 PM
    Spent time with the 75th Ranger detachment in Vietnam. Your story brings out the spirit of elite troops as well as the realization of war. No Rambo types, only men who have been trained to win!
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:47:00 PM
    Thanks MB

    DeAnna Joyce Beck Frisco, Tx 11/22/97 2:28:47 PM
    When Casey died I was given a narrative of what exactly happened that day, although it was not this specific. It always made me feel good knowing that my husband did so much that day to help his fellow Rangers. Thank you for letting others
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:47:00 PM
    I am especially happy to know that you appreciate the story, DeAnna. I would like to talk to you further. You can reach me at 215-854-2400. Thanks MB

    DTD newburgh,ny 11/22/97 8:07:44 PM
    Mark why cant I view my other Q"s did you erase them! I'am glad to see things are being portrayed as close to the facts as you can get them. Remember! When the going gets TUFF the TUFF go cyclic!!!
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:52:09 PM
    I don't know what glitch ate your filings, Dave. Sorry about it. Still waiting for your call on the land line. MB

    DTD - The other postings are located on the pages labelled Round 1 and Round 2 of Q&A. We had to break up the string of questions to be kind to our readers' modems. Hope it isn't too confusing. - Online editor

    lawrence field phila. pa. 11/22/97 10:41:19 PM
    why did president Clinton change the mission in somalia?
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:52:09 PM
    This will be addressed at length toward the end of the series. In a nutshell: The UN was trying to set up a coalition government in Somalia so that famines like the one in 1992 would not recur. Aidid and his clan were resisting the idea of sharing power and had begun attacking UN troops. So the Clinton administration was convinced to sent Task Force Ranger to arrest Aidid and remove his clan as a military threat. It was to enable the nation-building effort. There was much debate and dissent within the White House and Pentagon prior to the deployment, but a landmine that killed several US soldiers in August tilted the decision in favor of taking down Aidid. MB

    Steven Johns Philadelphia, PA 11/23/97 12:08:41 AM
    I too would like to know why and when the policy of passive police action was changed to active military action? I've always felt Somalia was never a vital national interest and to have lost even one person would have been a travesty. To have
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 5:56:46 PM
    Again, keep reading. This issue is also addressed at length in the documentary film on Dec. 2nd, 9 PM on Channel 12 in Philadelphia, WHYY. Thanks MB

    AHAGEN PHILA. PA. 11/23/97 10:27:03 AM
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM

    A HAGEN PHILA. PA. 11/23/97 10:35:53 AM
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM

    thomas meier collingswood.nj 11/23/97 12:26:03 PM
    I have really enjoyed reading your series Blackhawk Down. Actually, I have a personal interest in the series because Staff Sgt. Daniel Busch is my cousin. I was wondering if this series can be purchased in a book form? Please let me know. E-mail Eg
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:02:03 PM
    I would like to talk to you or anyone in your family about Daniel. Please call me at 215-854-2400. The series will remain up online indefinitely. It will also be available in a full reprint when it ends. Call 215-854-2931. The book, which contained about three times more material than the series, will be published in Fall, 1998. Thanks MB

    Lucinda Fleeson Kalaheo, Hawaii 11/23/97 6:42:47 PM
    1. How the heck did you get those Somalia's to talk to you? 2. Is the movie contract signed? 3. Are you accepting congratulations? 4. Does the story have an end? 5. How are you?
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:02:03 PM
    Hi, Lucinda. Please call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    Steve Washington 11/23/97 9:02:56 PM
    I was a member of Bco 3/75 and was there for the mission you are writing about. Please send me your direct e-mail address so I can ask you some some questions in private
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM

    Bruce Cherry Hill, NJ 11/23/97 10:21:20 PM
    Downloaded VDOLive player PPC3 and it shows a window "can't run because SoundLib could not be found." Any suggestions? I have Mac performa
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    You can call the online people at 215-854-5002. MB

    Bruce - Sounds like your Mac is missing a portion of the sound installation software, or that part of the sound library is turned off. Take a look around in the "sound" section of the control panels, which is under the Apple icon. If you can't find anything turned off, try calling your local Mac expert. - Online editor

    Andrew Hall, 1SG PAARNG Norristown, PA 11/23/97 11:31:23 PM
    Mr. Bowden: Your article has been very well written and engrossing. It is unusual to find such a well-written story in today's papers. However, and you know this has to happen, there is an inaccuracy that should probably should be corrected. Hummers
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:07:34 PM
    Unfortunately, we did not get the correction. Your message cut off before you wrote it, Andrew. Could you resend it so I can make the fix? Thanks MB

    Mark C. Fairfax, Virginia 11/24/97 10:31:46 AM
    Were any FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed)videos available from Magic Warrior / Scout vehicle mission? Location Sword base.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:07:34 PM
    I don't know. I am unfamiliar with this terminology. MB

    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:07:34 PM
    Details on obtaining a copy of the documentary will be available in early 1998. It will air nationally at a date not yet set. MB

    stephen wisniew villanova, pa 11/24/97 2:04:26 PM
    I was wondering how long the series would last because I am doing a presentation to my Army Rotc class on the events in the series.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:07:34 PM
    As of now, the series will end Dec. 14. MB

    Lorrie Durant Clarksville, TN 11/24/97 3:36:37 PM
    Will you talk with my class online about your book? Mike Durant is my husband - I teach 5th grade.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:07:34 PM
    I would be honored to talk to your class, Lorrie. I have sons in the fourth and sixth grades, and they've been following the series avidly. I will answer questions as they come in (although I'm not on all the time), or perhaps we could set up a live chat. I think that would work best. If you want, call me at 215-854-2400. Thanks MB

    Lorrie Durant Clarksville, TN 37043 11/24/97 3:53:19 PM
    Mr. Bowden - Thank you for your account of the Somalian conflict. I have been engrossed- There is a question about Yousuf dahir Mo'Alim pulling Mike from the Blackhawk - how can that be? One of the D guys did that?
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 4:27:09 PM
    Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon helped Mike from the Blackhawk. He remembers them lifting him very gently and placing him on the ground. Yousef found him lying there. MB

    Chris Arlington, VA 11/24/97 5:19:13 PM
    You should tell the story about how McKnight's career was ended by making him 1st Army's Rep. to the VA Nat. Guard. He was constantly asking for more air support and didn't get it.
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:09:47 PM
    I have tried to contact Col. McKnight without success. I would like to talk to him very much. My number is 215-854-2400. Thanks MB

    Peter "Squigs" Squeglia Boston MA 11/24/97 5:59:01 PM
    Although I was with Bco 3/75 on the ground force 4 years ago reading this story and seeing the pictures still gives me butterflys! You have compiled probably the best story of modern spec-ops ever. John Burns is now in Columbus GA, call me to
    Mark Bowden 11/24/97 6:09:47 PM
    Thnaks, Peter. I'll call. MB

    Stan Jenkins Omaha, Nebraska 11/24/97 10:04:01 PM
    Mark, I arrived in Mogadishia, Somalia on Aug 17, 1993, and departed Jan 31, 1993. I have just started reading your report and would like to thank you before hand.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    You bet MB

    Delta John Bragg 11/24/97 10:43:46 PM
    Comment: Your work is becomming popular real fast we me and the other "D-boys" at the compound; hard copy is being brought in daily to give all the guys a chance to lood it over. So far nothing but praise...
    Delta John Bragg 11/24/97 10:44:34 PM
    Comment: Your work is becomming popular real fast we me and the other "D-boys" at the compound; hard copy is being brought in daily to give all the guys a chance to look it over. So far nothing but praise...
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    Thanks, DJ, I really appreciate it. There are still a few of your men I'd like to interview for the book. If anybody's interested, please call at 215-854-2400. MB

    David Peters Philadelphia, PA 11/25/97 2:22:40 AM
    If this is not the most intense piece of journalism, if not written word I have ever read, I can not imagine what would be. Is a book forth comming?
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    Thanks you very much, David. The book is to be published in the Fall of 1998 by Atlantic Monthly Press. This series represents only about a third of the whole. MB

    Col Mark Mondl Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 11/25/97 7:52:07 AM
    Terrific article. We were at the Air War College when this raid took place. We discussed it, but did not have enough information. The article provided much needed light on this aspect of military history - bravery and blunders. Thanks.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    I am very flattered. Thanks. MB

    John Plaster Iron River, WI 11/25/97 10:50:29 AM
    You've done a fantastic job. Why was this published as a newspaper serial rather than a book -- the story of these brave men deserves wide exposure.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    Very few newspapers are willing to undertake something as extensive as Blackhawk Down. The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the few. For a writer to be able to work on a salary and be paid expenses (like, for traveling all over the US to interview soldiers, travel to Mogadishu), doing the work for a newspaper is the best deal imaginable. Then, to be able to expand on the topic in book form ... well, it's hard to beat. The book will be published in the Fall of 1998. Thanks MB

    John Plaster Iron River, WI 11/25/97 11:02:28 AM
    I'm now writing a history of sharpshooting/sniping from the French & Indian War to today; FYI, the Medals of Honor presented to the two Delta snipers, Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon, were the first ever awarded to American snipers for their ac
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    We lost the last few lines of your note, John. But thanks. MB

    GySgt Chad D. Moyer Charlottesville, Va 11/25/97 11:26:56 AM
    Mr Bowden, I have read every chapter up to date, and I am very impressed with your work thus far. The style of your writing brought both tears to my eyes and sweat all over my body. You see, I was there in the JOC, loading ammo, guarding prison
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    Thank you very much Chad. The appreciation of men like you, who were there, is the best. MB

    JR Lansdale, PA 11/25/97 11:29:17 AM
    My computer does not easily down-load video and audio files. Why not make audio and video transcript info. available in text as well?? At least I would be able to read it.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    I'm afraid the labor involved in transcribing the tapes is more than the already heavily burdened online staff can handle. Most of what the soldiers have to say has been incorporated into the story. Still, it's cool to be able to let them speak for themselves. Sorry MB

    TB Norristown, PA 11/25/97 11:31:57 AM
    You are realy milking this series for all it's worth. 30 chapters!!!! You can do it in half the time. It is just a tool I am sure, to drag it out and sell news papers. Let's cut through the chase!!!
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:25:39 PM
    You are reading this online for FREE. MB

    JR Lansdale, PA 11/25/97 11:35:01 AM
    You left us hanging about what happened to Mike Durrant in Chapter 9. Chapter 10 hardly even mentioned him. When are we going to hear about his ordeal again?
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Mike pretty much dropped out of the picture in Mogadishu, too ... for 11 days in fact. He does indeed come back, with a full account of his captivity and release. We've still got 120 soldiers stranded on the streets of the city and hunkered down around the first crash site. All of these events were occurring simultaneously, which, for a writer, presents narrative challenges. My only hope is that suspense will keep you reading. Thanks MB

    PK Philadelphia, PA 11/25/97 11:40:11 AM
    An interesting series, how ever, you seem to trivialize the innocent women and children who are getting killed by U.S. troops. These are human lifes we are talking about. Were these soldiers held accountable for their actions and put on trial for m
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Much more about the Somali perspective is coming. I don't think we are trivializing these deaths. We are reporting about them in detail for the first time. To my knowledge, no one from Task Force Ranger was investigated or charged with any malfeasance. MB

    JR Landsdale. PA 11/25/97 11:43:51 AM
    Are you trying to create heros for hawks and war mongers? Rambo revisited? War is war. Lives are destroyed no matter how you tell. These men were just following very ugly orders. Heros are the people who save lives not take them.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Just trying to tell exactly what happened. We think it's important for people to know. MB

    PK Philadelphia, PA 11/25/97 11:48:41 AM
    I just want to know if U.S . troops were held responsible for the women and children they killed? Write about how they fell as a murder.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Keep reading. MB

    Joe Sanchez Springfield, VA 11/25/97 11:51:21 AM
    Mark, great story! As a former Infantry officer, I can tell you that you are capturing the essence of men under fire and all that that entails. Keep up the good work!
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Thanks, Joe. MB

    Lorrie Durant Clarksville, TN 37043 11/25/97 12:24:20 PM
    A live chat with an author with be terrific! My children would most benefit from this after a visit from Mike - he has promised them a talk. How could we set this up - I'm not too familiar with being online. Thanks.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    I'm glad they will get to talk to Mike. God knows he can tell the story better than anyone. If you can, give a call to the Philly Online folk at 215-854-5002. They are excited about setting it up, too. MB

    Mike Statmore Buckingham, PA 11/25/97 12:44:19 PM
    No question. I just want to let you know how good I think this is. I am riveted to every story. It's the first thing I read. Thanks.
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Thank you. MB

    MAJ Jim Nagel Alexandria, VA 11/25/97 12:48:09 PM
    Great series--thanks for writing it. Thanks for letting others know about what those soldiers on the ground and flying above went through. When does your book come out?
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Thanks, Fall, 1998. MB

    Steve Meisel Phila PA 11/25/97 12:54:03 PM
    I am not questioning the efforts or bravery of the troops. But, I am curious if, in the aftermath, anyone has considered that the Rangers seemed more concerned with rescuing their wounded/dead than success of the mission. I am surprised by
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    I suggest you keep on reading. MB

    Mike Gailey Ft Bragg 11/25/97 3:27:30 PM
    Is there anyone in the Philly area who would be willing to tape the PBS program on Dec 2nd for me? If so please e-mail me at Thanks
    Harry Hurley Atlantic City, NJ 11/25/97 4:01:19 PM
    Mark ... My name is Harry Hurley ... I host the Morning Drive Talk Radio Program, "Hurley in the Morning" ... Mon thru Fri 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on WFPG Talk Radio 1450 in Atlantic City ...I am very impressed with your "Blackhawk Down" series ... y
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Thank you, Harry. We lost the end of your message. You can repost or call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    swami St. Petersburg, FL 11/25/97 4:12:29 PM
    Yo, Mark, Dynamite series. Nicely done. Congratulations. Cheers, Norton
    Mark Bowden 11/25/97 4:38:17 PM
    Thanks, Naugh. It was nice seeing you last week, even if only briefly. This one is, like, ten times longer than Rhino!! MB

    JIM KIERNAN SOUTH AMBOY,NJ 11/25/97 4:48:05 PM
    Mark Bowden 11/20/97 5:00:57 PM
    The book is scheduled to be published in the Fall of 1998. A reprint of the Inquirer series can be ordered when it stops running. Call 215-854-4984. The series represents about a third of the book. MB

    LH "Bucky" Burruss Columbia SC 11/25/97 5:12:43 PM
    Superb piece. Was in Somalia before and during US intervention. Some comments reflect - rightly so - concern about the loss of life. The lack of regard for human life by Aideed his fellow murderers is why the US had to intervene to begin with. TF Ran
    Mark Bowden 11/20/97 5:00:57 PM
    Thanks. MB

    Bucky Burruss Columbia, SC 11/25/97 5:19:31 PM
    Sometimes it is necessary to kill to stop the killing. (Remember WWII?) It's a very complex subject. The killing TF Ranger did was in self defense. It is a terrible thing to ask young men to do, but when this nation sends them into battle, they do it
    Mark Bowden 11/20/97 5:00:57 PM
    Thanks. MB

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