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 4

    Ret Infantryman Springfield, VA
    Your story about one of the fiercest, intense firefights in- volving U.S. soldiers needs to be told. As any combat vet knows---when the rounds are cracking, soldiers fight for themselves and their buddies, not presidents, generals or policies. Great series. Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. MB

    Frank Kuschnereit Fredericton,NB Canada
    Why were there no M1 tanks availible for support? The Humvee is only a jeep on steriods. Your descriptions of the emotions and trauma of combat are moving. Did the soldiers receive any treatment for Post Traumatic Stress?
    Mark Bowden
    Tanks were never requested by the commanders of Task Force Ranger. In Chechnya, rebels made short work of tanks on city streets, and given the rapid snatch-and-grab design of the missions, tanks were never part of the package. Bradley Fighting vehicles were requested, and turned down by Sec. of Defense Les Aspin, a decision which contributed mightily to his stepping down not long after the battle. At the end of the story I will address how the events of that day have left lasting effects on the men involved. Some have sought counseling. MB

    DT Colorado Sorings
    Great Series! Other good accounts of the battle are in Savage Peace by Daniel Bolger and Mogadishu! Heroism and Tragedy by DeLong and Tuckey.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks MB

    Mark, It has been reported that by Monday morning, 18 Americans were dead and 73 wounded. News reports also mentioned that there were a handfull of MIA's. With the exception of Chief Durant, do you know what happened to the rest of them? Can you also tell me how many Americans died on flights to Germany? Did you discover anything about blood shortages at the field hospital?
    Mark Bowden
    The crew of Durant's chopper and Shughart and Gordon, the D-boys who went in to help them, were considered missing for several days after the fight. Their bodies were all recovered. There will be more about the medical situation toward the end of the series. Keep reading. MB

    Bob Fayetteville, nc
    Will a portion of your book sales be donated to the families of those who died in battle in Solmalia.
    Mark Bowden
    Assuming the book makes money (I haven't even written it yet) I think that would be highly appropriate. MB

    Joe Milano Norristown,PA
    Nice piece. I've actually tried to read ahead. I especially like the electronic version. How long did you work on it?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Joe. I worked on the project part time for about a year and full time since February. The webpage is the work of Jennifer Musser here at Philly Online. I agree with you. It's cool. MB

    Anthony Murphy Point Marion, PA
    Great series. I was in OBC on my way to Fort Campbell when the raid happened. One of the Rangers who died was a kid who lived across the river from where I grew up. I don't remember his name, but I do remember reading about him in the local paper. At the end of the series, do you plan on compiling a list of the perished with their bios or obits?
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. And thanks. MB

    dave hall washington TWP, NJ
    Fascinating piece. I consider myself to be well-informed, but had no idea about how this unfolded. I even remember the Durant incident as an isolated event. How was this presented at the time? Was the ferocity of the battle downplayed? Or was I not paying attention? My admir. for our fighting forces increases w/each word...
    Mark Bowden
    There were no American reporters in Mogadishu when the battle happened. Somalia was dying out as a story, and the actions of Task Force Ranger were considered secret. Rick Atkinson of the Washington Post went back and reconstructed an excellent and amazingly accurate overview of the battle for that newspaper, which ran in 1993. I do think some of the battle's ferocity was downplayed by officials in Mogadishu. MB

    Dan Diemer Kennesaw,GA.
    Mark, I am glad to see the truth of what went down over there finally get out. My brother Dave was stationed at Benning and being in Georgia I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of the other Rangers. It's good to see them getting the respect they deserve. Dan Diemer, Hey Dave what's going on?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Dan. And, Dave, call your brother. MB

    Major Chuck Harrison Fort Hood, TX
    Once again, you are another "wanna be" that promotes the all out lies and half truths associated with this battle. This is an inaccurate, bogus and worthless piece of journalism. Why can't you guys get it right? I was flying one of those little bird guns.
    Mark Bowden
    Please call me at 215-854-2400. If I have made mistakes I will fix them, and I would be very interested in anything you have to add. MB

    Joseph F. Burns Atco, NJ
    I spoke with my nephew, John Burns sunday night. I explained the article to him and gave him your phone number. He said he would call you.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. He did. MB

    Dan Rockville, MD
    I am absolutely stunned by the story. Thank you for telling a story that was mostly ignored by others. What is the saying about "extraordinary heroism being ordinary that day?"
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Dan. More to come. MB

    JCB Cincinnati, OH
    Great series, very difficult going at times - brings back tough memories. Was a member of the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team flying on Super 68 that roped in on the first crash site.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I would be interested in hearing your account of the fight. Please call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    Jim Calpin Reston, VA
    Will you be making any more audio clips available of the live radio transmissions? Is a transcript available anywhere?
    Mark Bowden
    There will be more excerpts. The transcript remains, for some reason, classified. MB

    Richardson Harrisburg, PA
    I can only say thank you to ALL those who serve in the military. This story brings to reality how trivial our every day problems are compared to what these men must face at various times. Again THANK You
    David Bagnoli Philadelphia, PA
    Great series. As a USAF vet I'm concerned those who question the soldiers actions fail to realize their role as an arm of US policy. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors carry out our nation's policies- they do not get to choose when or where. I recommend Atlantic Monthly article from summer 97 regarding separation between those who serve and civilians.
    Ranger wife Chicago, IL
    Just sat down and read all the Q&A's - was stunned at the people who accuse the Rangers of murder. Do these people have no concept of what we ask our young soldiers to experience? They weren't having fun that day...
    Ranger wife Chicago, IL
    Still peeved about the readers who feel the Rangers were "killing innocent women and children" who were being used as human shields to protect those who were trying to kill my husband. Unlike those who commented, my husband will be living with his actions for the rest of his life...
    Redleg Edison, NJ
    MB, positively captivating. AHagen is right, America is growing, many now consider humanitarian interventions legitimate. We were trying to save lives and build democracy, and just like the Rangers, America should lead. Rangers=Heros. Thanks MB for RESPECTFUL SCRUTINY - you are restoring the Media's damaged rep.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. MB

    Can you clarify why your version of who gave Mike Durant the weapon? The Official account has it opposite.
    Mark Bowden
    This is a fascinating question. In the official account, Randy Shughart was killed first and Gary Gordon came back around the helicopter, gave Durant a weapon, tried to radio for help, etc. A Delta soldier I interviewed who knew both Shughart and Gordon convinced me that it was the opposite. He heard Randy radio twice for help. Gordon and Shughart carried different customized weapons, and the one handed Durant's was almost certainly Gordon's, not Shughart's. Gordon would not have handed Durant his own weapon, so it was more likely Shughart who did the handing. Lastly, in his witness statement, Durant said he recognized Gordon because he had attended flight briefings. Actually, it was Shughart who had attended these briefings. I spoke with Durant on Friday, and while reluctant to see the official story altered, he said he could not be certain which man was which (very understandably under the circumstances). I believe Shughart did the things the official account attributes to Gordon. Both men, as Durant pointed out, acted with extraordinary selfless heroism. MB

    LT Warminster, PA
    great series. My heart goes out to two delta snipers shugart and gordon. if the blackhawk commander was going to put them on the ground then cover them don't leave them alone.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. Others in Delta feel the way you do. MB

    Marko Nashua, NH
    The Medal of Honor citations state that Randy Shughart went down before Gordon, and I've heard that those two fought the Somalis for longer than a few minutes before they were gunned down. Do you have any information on how long the fight at the second crash site lasted?
    Mark Bowden
    I believe they held off the Somalis for nearly two hours, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. MB

    Brad Colip Greenfield, IN
    In reference to the P-3 Orion, why were they using an anti-submarine aircraft for photo-recon? This is not it's primary mission. I am perplexed on why one would be there in the first place unless the Navy was wanting to get a "piece of the action" (example: Desert One). This is a very good series, can't wait for the book!!!!
    Mark Bowden
    I think you hit the nail on the head. It was a "joint" operation, hence the SEALs, Air Force PJs, etc. Everybody wanted a piece. MB

    1stFO Chicago, IL
    I was dismayed to read Maj Harrison's comment. From the air, I'm sure that the battle looked much different, however as a Ranger on the ground that day, I find your portrayal of the events highly accurate as do the majority of the soldiers involved. Thank you.
    Mark Bowden
    I am curious myself. I hope to hear from Maj. Harrison. The story is drawn directly from the accounts of men who were there, not from official sources. The radio quotes are from the actual radio transmissions. And I watched videotape of the battle. If I've made mistakes, I want to know. I will correct them. MB

    Mark Bowden
    I believe (and this is a rough estimate) 500 Somalis died in the battle, and more than 1,000 were injured. Ambassador Robert Oakley, President Clinton's special envoy to Somalia, says he believed 1,000 Somalis died that day. Official estimates were taken from hospital counts, but many of the dead were buried without going to a hospital. Given the flimsy architecture in Mogadishu, and the sheer volume of fire, anyone in the densely populated neighborhoods where the fighting took place was at dire risk, indoors or out. MB

    Kent Jones Philadephia, PA
    I was the CommO for BLT 1/9, the ground combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit which was sent to Somalia as a result of the Battle of Mogadishu (we were on our way to Australia, oh well).
    Kent Jones Philadephia, PA
    While there we conducted a joint/combined “show of force” op with elements of an Army mechanized company and Nigerian military forces. Do you have a feel for the Somalis view of/respect for US and UN forces before and after the battle?
    Mark Bowden
    Their feelings are all mixed up with patriotism, clan loyalty, anger, outrage . . . October 3rd is celebrated by the Habr Gidr as Ma'alinti Rangers, The Day of the Rangers, and is the occasion for much dance and celebration. They regard it as a national victory. Somali streetfighters say they would have killed the Rangers with their bare hands if it weren't for the helicopters. But wiser heads speak with sad, bitter and knowing respect of American military capability and skill. MB

    Kent Jones Philadephia, PA
    To Frank Kuschnereit: When we conducted our "show of force op" we put together a signifigant fighting force consisting of Army M1-A1s, Bradleys, and M111 APCs; Marine AAVs and LAVs (the Nigerians had no signifigant armor). Mark do you no how long after the battle did the first heavy Army units arrive in Mog?
    Mark Bowden
    I think it started arriving Oct. 5th, but I'm not sure. MB

    LWH McGuire AFB
    I see your getting alot of e-mail input from TFR or DF personnel not yet interviewed. Do you plan on incorporating into the book any additional interviews that were not made when these 30 chapters were published? By the way, great job researching your material!
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. The number of DF men interviewed is very small. They have a strong policy of not talking to people like me. The number of TFR soldiers interviewed mounts daily. I will interview as many men as I can find until I run out of time. The series is neccessarily limited by the space available in the newspaper -- which, given 30 parts, has been pretty generous. The series amounts to about a third of the book. MB

    Jack Bartow, Fl
    Will this be aired only in Pa? If so how can I get an uncut copy of the program? If it will be aired all over; what was the date and time again?
    Mark Bowden
    It will be aired nationally. We just don't have a date yet. Details on obtaining a copy of the documentary will be available in early 1998. MB

    Herb Wilmington
    The series is terrific in print and online. Thank you, the Inquirer and the online folks. How did the Somalis treat you and what is the perspective on USA over there?
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. Many of the Somalis we met treated us with friendship and kindness. There is lingering bitterness and anger toward the UN, but little directed at the US. On the streets, mobs would form wherever we went, and in that number there were some who were clearly outraged to find Americans walking around their streets. We had hired protection, and we limited our stays in any one place. There is no government there, so we were mostly concerned about being robbed or kidnapped, but the men we hired treated us honorably and a number of people went to great lengths to be helpful. The Habr Gidr leaders told us to leave, that we were not welcome. We stayed anyway for seven days, and no one harmed us. MB

    Dan Burlington, CT
    Will you discuss the involvement of the 10th Mtn Div, particularly the actions of the Attack Helicopter Bn? My son was a Cobra pilot in the middle of this and has written a history of their engagement. Also will you discuss the amazing story of the Pakistani's and their tanks?
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. In the series all these things will not be discussed in detail, just given the space limitations. But I hope to do a fuller job in the book, which will be out in the Fall of 1998. If your son would like to contact me, I'd like to hear from him. My number is 215-854-2400. Thanks MB

    Dan Burlington, CT
    Can you tell me how to obtain a copy of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on this affair. I think it was released in 1995. My senators' offices won't respond.
    Mark Bowden
    I would call the Armed Services Committee directly. That's how I got mine. MB

    1SG Andrew Hall Norristown, PA
    To follow up, Hummers come in several variants. Cargo types are distinguished by the high canvac covers on them. The typr you describe is a "gun jeep" vehicle with Kevlar armor protection. These hard tops are what you are describing. Not the cargo Hummer.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. There were both cargo and gun humvees in the convoys that day. I do not always designate which is which. MB

    1SG Hall Norristown, PA
    In your story on Durant's bird and the fate of MSG Shugart and SFC Gordon, why did you not mention that they begged, pleaded, and argued to be put on the ground? They displayed that intestinal fortitude so many are unwilling to sacrifice. For that they recieved the Medal of Honor.
    Mark Bowden
    While Shughart and Gordon were both ready and willing to get on the ground, neither was connected to the chopper intercom, and neither, according to Mike Goffena, the pilot, communicated anything about the matter beforehand. MB

    Walt Shumate Valhalla, NC
    "Holding a baby on one arm, she raised a pistol..." (Ch.11, p.4) APPALLING! You mean Aideed didn't have day care centers for the children of mothers HE sent to slaughter the way Clinton's ready to do ? Maybe you should rethink this whole women-in-combat thing, Mr. & Ms. President !
    Rick Raleigh, NC
    A couple of tactical questions: After the Pakistani were ambushed why didn't they anticipate the ambush of the vehicles?
    Mark Bowden
    I have not studied the Paki ambush. As for TFR, they relied on surprise and speed. Usually they were in and out of a place too fast for any concerted attack to take place. They got stuck because the helicopters were shot down, something thought a lot less likely than it turned out to be (five helicopters were shot down that day. Three made it back to base). MB

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