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 6

    Scott Pierce Blue Bell
    As a P-3 pilot for 13 years and 2800 hours, I can assure you that we cannot be refueled inflight.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks for the correction, Scott. The glossary reference has been fixed. MB

    KBH FT. CAMPBELL, KY
    Thank you for your article. I hope this article will bring the respect the people who serve in are country's military deserves from the people who like to sit at home and enjoy all there freedoms without ever serving a day protecting there country's freedom. If you like all your freedom you better thank a Vet.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. MB

    Michaela
    Others keep bringing up Shughart's father refusing the flag from Clinton at the funeral. I thought that it was Aspin representing Clinton at the funeral. Although I did hear Shughart's father had words with Clinton at another time.
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    RVS Germantown, Md.
    Great story. Gen Whatshisname, and you in round 1(?), said that Bradleys probably wouldn't have made a difference. Doesn't sound right to me. It's a fact that Bradleys were requested and that they offer a lot more protection than hummers and troop trucks. I fault the Clinton's crews "despise the military" mentality for that blunder.
    Mark Bowden
    More coming on this subject. Keep reading. MB

    N. TRULOCK MCLEAN, VA
    On Cspan, you mentioned command and control problems. Who had overall command? Wasn't Garrison ranger? Thanks for answering my last q. What changes in C2 has the army instituted to avoid such calamities in future urban warfare?
    Mark Bowden
    Task Force Ranger was under the command of Maj. Gen. William F. Garrison. He reported to CENTCOM in Tampa. I know of no changes to C2 or of any effort by the Army to address the issues raised by this story (which does not mean there haven't been any). MB

    M. Hawkins Columbus, Oh
    Mark, excellent piece of work. I believe the waste of lives and material in Somolia is emblematic of a failure on the part of the C. administration to adequately codify America's purpose and role in a post-cold war world. Until then, the pariah states will continue to define it, and we shall continue to deploy assets to react instead of to prevent.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    PAUL WARRINGTON, PA
    WERE RADIO TRANSMISSIONS IN THE CLEAR?
    Mark Bowden
    The Somalis were listening to them. MB

    name withheld Ft. Bragg, NC
    Thank God for Walt Shumate and Chuck Harrison. Again, the MH-53 is the oldest and biggest piece of crap in the entire military inventory.
    J. Jackson Egg Harbor Twp. NJ
    Listning to the radio transmissions it seems it would be impossible for those on the ground to understand any instructions. Why didnt command instil better radio discipline? P.S. GREAT WORK
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I defense of the radio transmissions, the excerpts are drawn from some of the most hectic and confusing moments of the battle, and are not typical of the whole 15 hours. For the most part I was impressed by how smoothly all the moving parts were coordinated. MB

    Fales formally of Ft. Bragg
    I was the senior pararescueman on the 61 crash and part of your story is wrong!
    Mark Bowden
    Please point out my mistake, Scott, and I'll correct it. You can do so here or phone me at 215-854-2400. As you probably know, I requested an interview with you when I visited Pensacola and didn't get the chance to interview you. I would love to do so now. Tim Wilkinson told me a great story, and I have drawn on the excellent article about the battle in Airman magazine, which quotes you extensively. But I would much prefer to talk to you myself. So please call. MB

    sgm mayer fort bragg, nc
    have you found any reference to a Richard Lamb of the Rangers or Rick Mcauley of the D-boys? Both are friends of mine.
    Mark Bowden
    Richard Lamb will be in the story in coming days. I did not learn anthing about McCauley. MB

    akram leavenworth,KS 66048
    Pakistani troops,tanks and APCs were part of the US Rangers rescue operation,during night 3/4 Oct.Several Rangers were caried to safety by them.Do you have some material on that?Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    Jason P Lancaster, Pa
    Mark, I'm curious as to why there was no armor support throughout this whole ordeal. Why humvees and 5-tons when Bradley's or even M1's could have been used? I think the whole mission was poorly planned and I understand as a journalist you can't express your opinion but what do you think?
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be addressing this issue in detail in a story at the end of the series. We felt that a story about the controversies surrounding the battle would be much better read and appreciated after readers had learned what happened. So, keep reading. MB

    Dr. Alton E. Neurath, Jr. Louisville, KY. 40207
    Dear Mark Bowden & Philadelphia Enquirer. Thanks so much for the excellent series.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Dr. Neurath. MB

    Bill W. C'ville VA
    There is no great animosity or lack of trust between SF and Rangers. Indeed, most SF guys come from the 75th or the 82nd Abn. Remember, most Rangers (E4 and below) are young; 17-20. Most SF NCOs are older: late 20s or 30s. The other point is that this was the 7th hit; the first 6 were in and out FAST. This wasn't and that's why we took hits.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Bill. I think you are exactly right (although it is my understanding that Oct. 3rd was the sixth mission). I pointed out the age difference early on in the story. There was, however, and is, considerable animosity felt by at least some of the D-boys toward the Rangers. I'm not saying they are right, or that they're being fair, but it exists without question. Keep reading. MB

    Maj Braverman North Wales, PA
    Mark, I am the Commander of a Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based in Reading, PA. I'd love the opportunity for my soldiers to meet and spend some time with you in order to get your perspective on Army public affairs. My e-mail is sethbrav@erols.com. P.S. Your series is captivating.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Major. I would be very happy to meet with your men. I will email you back on my line, and you can contact me during the work week at 215-854-2400. MB

    SFC P Anchorage, AK
    Sorry, but I got into the series late. You said you'd be on NPR "this Wednesday." Which Wednesday? Did I miss it? Great work. I've been reading with tears in my eyes and my hands clenched in fists. Should be required reading for everybody who has never served or never heard a shot fired in anger. jp
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I'll be on NPR's Morning Edition Wednesday, December 3rd. That program airs at different hours around the country, I think, and I don't know exactly when in the show I'll be on. MB

    john delgado ft. campbell, kentucky
    wondering why CW2 Dale Shrader and numerous others were not mentioned? Dale was one of the pilots shot down and rescued some of his crew. He desrves his recognition.
    Mark Bowden
    I'm afraid I know nothing about Dale being shot down Oct. 3rd, John. I would like to hear about it and if I do I will certainly include an account of it in my book version of this story. Many people and events I do know about(for instance, Mike Goffena's crash in Super 68) have unfortunately been trimmed out of the newspaper series because the paper has (even with 30 parts) limited space. I make no claim to know everything about the battle. If you or anyone else knows of something or someone important I am missing, please let me know at 215-854-2400. This is very much a work in progress. MB

    martin Coatesville
    A story that needs to be told. I was dubious of the man on crutches on the street where 'everything that moved' was being shot at. Also, with Maddox ramming buildings etc. how could he have noticed running over a soft human body?
    Mark Bowden
    This is what Eric Spalding remembers, and he was sitting in the passenger seat. He saw the man on crutches go down, and felt the truck lurch over him. MB

    martin Coatesville
    Are you saying that SEAL John Gay rammed a flamming barricade of 'huge underground gasoline tanks' with Delta Sargeant Wasdin lying on the hood of the humvee??
    Mark Bowden
    This is Gay's account of what happened, which is in writing and on file with the US Army. Wasdin had his wounded legs draped out the open front of the vehicle on the hood, he was not lying on the hood. I agree that it is pretty amazing. It shows how desperate they were. MB

    Darin Delaney Phila., PA
    Dear Mark, I am trying to contact an old Navy buddy who is mentioned in your story. His name is Howard Wasdin. We served together in a helicopter squadron in 1985-86. Could you please help? email puckhead22@aol.com Thank you kindly.
    Mark Bowden
    I'd like to help, but I have been unable to reach Wasdin myself. MB

    Laurie King-Irani Arlington, Virginia 22203
    CONGRATS. on a beautiful and powerful series on Somalia. We saw Brian and Leslie for Thanksgiving. Send warm greetings. Suggestions for future stories: series of articles on 50 years after partition of Palestine; a week with the population and guerrillas in South Lebanon. We are ready, George and I to help. Peace. george.irani@mcione.com
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Laurie. Maybe when I get my head above water we'll talk about those ideas. MB

    skinny
    Mark, Your work to this point has been nothing less than Hooah! But as you have found out, we lost to many highly trained professionals. Now the facts......The number 18 is wrong, it was wrong on 3 Oct and it is still wrong today.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Skinny. I count 18: Cleveland, Frank, Field, Shughart, Gordon, Wolcott, Briley, Smith, Fillmore, Pilla, Houston, J. Martin, T. Martin, Ruiz, Cavaco, Joyce, Busch, Kowalewski. Am I missing someone? MB

    Cameron
    I have been trying to get the complete transcript of your work on this, but have gotten no reply from the e-mail address you gave earlier. It was CustServ@phillynews.com. Any other way I can get the transcripts of this story?Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    Reprints of the series will be available after it's finished (Dec. 14th) at 215-854-4984. The entire text is also available on this Web site. MB

    JCB Cincinnati, OH
    I see you have contacted Al Lamb, Rob Phipps, and Tim Wilkinson. I'd like to get back in touch with them (Scott Fales as well) - wonder if you could help. In the meantime, guys, you can reach me at jbelman@one.net.
    Mark Bowden
    I'll see what I can do. MB

    Jim Ft Monmouth
    Great interview on C-SPAN Re question on when better C2 is coming. Battlefield Digitization with detail Situational Awareness moving maps and rapid C2 in final testing stages. Fiedling 00 timeframe
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Fred Fleitz Sterling, VA
    I also was disappointed that SGT John Burns was not mentioned in your piece. I interviewed him at Bethesda Naval Hospital in November 1993. He is a true American hero who had a unique perspective of the Somalia debacle.
    Mark Bowden
    I have spoken with John, and will be including his experiences and take on things in the book, which will be out next fall. MB

    john newark de
    Were helicopter gunships (not just Blackhawks) used to protect the convoy? How effective were they in the close confines of city fighting? How effective were the flak vests? Did most of the Rangers remove the armor from them?
    Mark Bowden
    AH-6 gunships were continually in use throughout the battle (I'll be writing more about them later), and performed with great distinction, flying support so close-in that it practically had guys on the ground wetting themselves. The flak vests appear to have been very effective, except for the lack of a back plate (which is what killed Casey Joyce). Many of the guys working in vehicles removed the plates for comfort and ease of movement. Most of the Rangers did not remove the plates. MB

    Vaclav Fresno, CA
    How many Medals Silver star and above were Awarded, and to who? Is there A comprehensive list of Awards ?
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    Ackhack Philadelphia
    You stated earlier that the ability of RPGs to bring down a Blackhawk was underestimated. Just how naive are the people in charge? How do they come to the conclusion that they would be impervious to RPGs? Obviously, this conclusion is now revised, but is there any indication that the vulnerability estimation "process" will be revised? I suppose you wouldn't know if Blackhawk design changes are contemplated in response to this fiasco. in the future? they
    Mark Bowden
    I don't think anyone thought the Blackhawk would be impervious to RPGs, just that the Somalis couldn't hit them. Prior to Oct. 3rd, according to one of the helicopter gunners, none of Task Force Ranger's choppers had even received a bullet hole, much less an RPG hit. The difference on Oct. 3rd was the volume of grenades. The Somalis launched thousands of them. MB

    Rick Raleigh, NC
    Is the Scott Fales in this article the same Air Force Sgt Fales that was in Ranger class 13-81 from August to November 1981?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know. MB

    R. J. May St. Lawrence, PA
    In Chapter 15, you state SEAL John Gay is driving lead vehicle with 3 flat tires but at the end he yells to the driver to ram the blockcade of gasoline tanks. Please clarify.
    Mark Bowden
    The Humvee was still running on three flats. They are designed to roll a long way on the rims if neccessary. MB

    ED BEAL GREENSBORO,N.C.
    hOO-AH! WONDERFUL STORY AND VERY HEART BREAKING TOO. I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON THOSE FEW DAYS,BECAUSE HEROES WAS MADE THAT DAY, NOT BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO BE, IT WAS THERE JOB TO SAVE THERE FALLEN COMRADES. I SERVED WITH CO.H/75TH. IN VIETNAM AND WITH CO./A75.AT FORT HOOD,TEXAS. TO BE VERY HONEST,I WOULD OF LIKED TO BEEN THERE WITH MY RANGER BROTHERS,SIDE BY SIDE.IT'S IN MY BLOOD AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ME,WHEN YOU HAVE TASTED COMBAT.THAT WILL NEVER GO AWAY. MY BERET OFF TO THE RANGERS FOR A FINE JOB THEY DID,UNDER THE MOST DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.LOOKING FORWARD TO READING YOUR BOOK WHEN IT COMES OUT. CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME, WHEN THE SERIES WILL COME OUT ON PBS.THE PBS STATION WE GET IN THE GREENSBORO AREA IS WUNL OUT OF RALIEGH,N.C. THANKS AGAIN FOR THE MILITARY ACTION THAT TOOK PLACE WITH THE RANGERS IN SOMALIA AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.I ALSO HAVE A STORY LINE ABOUT SOME 75TH RANGER THAT WAS LOST IN CAMBODIA,JUNE 17,1970, THAT WAS WITH CO./75TH RANGERS. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, LET ME KNOW. AS OF KNOW WE HAVE (1) MIA, (1) BODY NEVER RECOVERED. MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IS REBEAL@MINDSPRING.COM. tHANKS AGAIN FOR
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Ed. I'm going to be pretty busy with this for the for the next few months. If you remember, give me a call later next year. 215-854-2400. MB

    Rick Raleigh, NC
    I take exception to some of SEAL John Gay's criticism of the actions of the Rangers in his humvee. As an NCO it was his responsibility to direct them. To complain after the fact when he did nothing to correct them is dishonorable.
    Anthony Murphy Point Marion, PA
    I don't know if this will help you or not, but I remember reading an account of the battle in Infantry magazine. I don't remember which issue, but it was written by the Company XO of the 10th Mtn. QRF force that went out with (I believe) the second convoy. Infantry is published by the School of Infantry at Fort Benning, GA.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Anthony. I'll look it up. MB

    W. Trimble Bethlehem, PA
    Mark, fantastic use of dialogue, action, description, interior monologue. Impressive job of research. Which other writers have most influenced your style?
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. It would be hard to draw up a list of writers who have influenced me. Some of my favorite contemporary novelists are Cormac McCarthy, Roddy Doyle, Martin Amis, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace. Nonfiction: Tom Wolfe, Peter Matthiessen, Norman Mailer (Of a Fire on the Moon and Executioners Song). In the book version of this story I'll get more of a chance to write, develop characters, pace the narrative, etc. MB

    Bruce Kerwin Spokane, WA
    Can you publish the plans, orders and graphics created by the commander(s) and staff(s) who controlled this operation? Was there a "reserve force" created ? If so what kept it from being committed ?
    Mark Bowden
    Can't publish plans and orders, but more of that will appear in the book. The 10th Mountain Division (Quick Reaction Force) was in reserve and will be thrown into the fight a few days hence. Keep reading. MB

    Bill Monterey, CA
    The 10th ID had organic artillery that should have been in range of the firefight. Did anyone in TF Ranger coordinate to exchange frequencies and target lists? Did the concern for secrecy prevent coordination between 10th ID and TF Ranger? Who had the authority to allow the use of artillery? Did the Ranger FO have mortars available?
    Mark Bowden
    Concern for secrecy did limit communication between TFR and the 10th, but not after the fight was well underway. I suspect artillery would have been too imprecise for the street-by-street, alley-by-alley fighting in Mog. I know of no plans to use it anyway. MB

    DCP Philly, PA
    How do most of the men who fought feel about the subsequent order to pull out was given? I fear that it lessens the incomparable sacrifice these men made. Some criminal warlord whacked our best and we high tailed it. No Pax Americana?
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading, More on this at the end of the series. MB

    DCP Phila., PA
    Now any rinky dink warlord in any future conflict will think that if he murders a dozen or so U.S. soldiers the world will get off his back. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Clinton "wussed out" without dishing out serious payback.
    SDF Houston, TX
    Great Series. Just 1 Mon. Morning QB Question: Could the Somali RPGs have taken out armor such as Bradley Fighting Vehicles or M-1 Tanks with reactive armor?
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. Garrison testified before the Senate that after seeing what short work was made of armored vehicles on urban streets in Chechnya, he was not eager to send American armor into the streets of Mog. The Somalis had little trouble with the Malaysian APCs which rolled out later ... but I'm getting ahead of the story here. MB

    Terry B. Roderick Cocoa, Florida
    Mark, As Vice President of the 75th Ranger Regiment Association, many thanks for telling the story of these brave Rangers and their comrades in Somalia. They have carried on the traditions of those Rangers who served before them in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Grenada, Panama, and Iraq. We are proud of all of them. Thanks for telling their story. RLTW !!
    Mark Bowden
    Proud to do it. Thanks. MB

    Tim Davis
    For those of us who did not participate in the battle of Mog-town, but knew those that did, and were wounded or killed, it has always remained an open sore. We have gleaned every piece of information available. There have always been gaps. Thanks to you, a lot of those gaps have now been filled. In addition, I have never understood how our C-I-C could have done an about face concerning our shifting policy with Adid. It's worse than the Day of the Rangers the Somalis's celebrate every Oct. 3.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Tim. MB

    DTD Newburgh NY
    Mark tried to catch you on cspan, missed it have a "Q" about the pictures. I'am sure they are safe RIGHT. I will contact you via land line next week leaving town for a few days. Please don't forget I can't get Philly PBS and I really want to see the Doct. Thanks DTD
    Mark Bowden
    We're taking good care of the pix, Dave. MB

    Tom Brewster, NY
    Why weren't the men on the ground backed up by those converted C-130 air-gunships that can rip up a city block in a minute or two? I'm no military planner, but the fatal flaw here seemed to be a lack of air support or perhaps tanks or Bradleys. Am I right?
    Mark Bowden
    A big controversy ensued afterwards about Defense Sec. Les Aspin's refusal to fill TFR's request for armor and the C-130. There are two schools of opinion. More on this to come. MB

    Lionel Atwill Dorset, VT
    Brilliantly Done! from a Vietnam era Ranger
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    JOSE E.G. GORDON FT BENNING, GA
    1) I would like to know whether or not you verified your sources? 2) Since I know for a fact that you didn't talk to the people in Quotations (ex.Matt Rierson) how is it that you quote them in the article directly. 3) Have you ever considered by publishing inacurate information, about such a sensitve event to the people that were on the streets of Mogadishu, that you would be causing many special operators to relive the anguish of what actually happened that day?
    Mark Bowden
    I have tried to be very careful. Matt Rierson was not alive to be interviewed, but fortunately his account of events during the battle survives. I also interviewed men who heard Matt tell his stories, and to the men he spoke with during the battle, i.e. the Rangers who were on the receiving end of his urgings and extremely competent advice. I have communicated indirectly (through a close friend) with the Rierson family, and know they approve of my telling this story. As for forcing men to relive the anguish, that would be an agrument, I suppose, for never writing about a battle. I feel that telling the story is important, and all of the men who have cooperated with me feel so, too. I have done my level best to be as accurate as possible. I never would have quoted Matt without his version of events. MB

    Steven Suranie Ambler, PA
    As an veteran who has served with Special Forces and Ranger troops I just wanted to comment on how impressed I was with your article. You present combat in all its arcane ugliness while remaining neutral to the story, something few journlist practice today.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Steven. MB

    JCB Cincinnati, OH
    Tried unsuccessfully to reach you via phone in response to your request for more info on CSAR/Super 68. I'll try again later in the week; you can send me email at jbelman@one.net.
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch. MB

    Mike Toler, LTC West Point, NY
    Mark, were you there? I did much of the initial planning for the JTF operation in Dec 92 on LTG Johnston's personal staff as the Dir of Acquisition and International Support. Negotiated with the Somali warlords and 22 Allied nations on behalf of the President. My idea to contract out the support instead of providing US forces for UNOSOM II, Bush bought it but Clinton did not. Planned the transition from US led Restore Hope to UNOSOM and coordinated with UN staff and AMB. Oakley and Kitani. Stayed there until Gen Powell directed that I return to CONUS and become the Dir of Contracting at USMA. I do not recall meeting you, although we were inundated with media for 1st two weeks, and they missed hot showers, food, home and family at Christmas. I am frequently asked to speak to public and military groups about Somalia. You may reach me at 914-938-3509, where I teach Geography to cadets.
    Mark Bowden
    I wasn't there. All this has been pieced together by reporting. I'll give you a call. MB

    JM AA
    Why no mention thus far of Clinton's denial of more armor to the troops? Seems that lack of leadership also had an effect. Heavy armor might have helped.
    Mark Bowden
    This is a debate, as you know, that sprung up after the battle. As it will in my account. Keep reading. MB

    Tom Havertown, PA
    Mark, back in 1982 when I was flying Air Force missions inot Berbera, Somalia when they were fighting the Ethiopians, I asked myself how anyone could die for such a god-forsaken land. These troops answered my question in the time honored way. They were fighting and dying for each other as is the case in every war. The sickening thing in my mind is the absolute politization of our military hiearchy and the "career above all eunuchs" they've become that they would allow their troops to be put in harm's way for no valid strategic reason other then to do the UN's bidding. Great series. Looking forward to the book.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Tom MB

    cecil candelario@mci.com richardson, texas
    is this a newspaper series only or is this part of or extracted from a book? If book, what is the title? Great reading...cc...
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. Blackhawk Down will be a book. It will be published in the fall of 1998 by Grove/Atlantic. The book will cover about three times more ground than the newspaper series. MB

    Curious Wayne, PA
    To what extent, if any, were the Mogadishans tipped off? You mentioned the tire burning.
    Mark Bowden
    TFR achieved surprise with its assault. This is evident from the videotape, and the fact that they nabbed the people they went in after without difficulty. With all the Somalis working at or near the American base (and with some alleged help from Italian troops nearby) the Aidid militia probably knew the general area where the force was headed about the time the assault force lifted off. But if Wolcott's helicopter hadn't gone down, there's a strong chance the mission would have gone nearly hitchless. MB

    Sixgun Philadelphia, PA
    There are a few details about the Blackhawks I'd like to know. I was wondering if the 160th birds used in the assault were MH-60A models with only the FLIR installed, or MH-60L models with uprated engines and the weather radar as well. Also, were the co-pilot and pilot's doors removed for easy egress in the event of a crash? Congratulations on your excellent series. The public needs t know about the sacrifices our soldiers make.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I don't know the answers to your questions. MB

    A gunner wrote in to answer the question: "The Hawks were about half and half for being a MH-60A/l and they all had a FLIR. The doors were removed to make it easier to see." -- Online editor


    GMB Mickleton N.J.
    Hell0 Mark, Was close air support from fast movers ever considered to protect the convoy.
    Mark Bowden
    fast movers? MB

    Scott Neal Fishers, Indiana
    Pilot & copilot seats in Blackhawks have a quick release lever in the rear of seat which is used to lower it and tilt it back. Why didn't Wilkerson try to use it to extracate the dead pilot? Was it inoperative after the crash sequence?
    Mark Bowden
    I never asked Tim this question directly, but given his expertise in removing pilots from downed aircraft, and the hours he spent trying to figure out how to remove Wolcott, I suspect the quick release lever occurred to him. Remember, the entire front end of the craft had folded in on the pilot's legs, pinning him hard. MB

    A gunner wrote in to answer this question: "This could not be done in our MH-60L, [because] during many of our modifications there were now boxes and various equipment in the way. Our Hawks were very different from other Hawks." -- Online editor


    Bob Stroud Severna Park, MD
    How did friendly troops identify each other as friendly (to avoid fratricide) when they were approaching each other?
    Mark Bowden
    As you will see if you keep reading, this was very very touchy late at night. During the day the distinctive desert BDUs, helmets and gear pretty much did the trick. The Somalis were in civilian clothes. MB

    mbigge@mba1999.hbs.edu Boston, MA
    I was under the impression that 3-14 IN and 3/C/1-87 IN from the 10th MTN were involved in the rescue. Also, I thought SFC Mooney (1-87IN-Silver Star) and 1LT Tom Ditomasso (3/75 SPT PL-Silver Star w/'V') played a role in the rescue. Please clarify. RLTW
    Mark Bowden
    The 10th Mt. Division, as you will see if you keep reading, plays a big part in the final rescue. Lt. Tom DiTomasso was written about in previous chapters -- he led the first group of Rangers to the crash site. MB

    Chris Ahmed Dothan, Alabama
    Excellent work. How many Little Birds flying that day? What were the coustomized sidearms carried by the DELTA Boys at Crash 2? Any hand-to-hand fighting? How many of the wounded with extremity injuries were left with lasting significant disability? How did our forces know that the Somalis had only RPGs and not more accurate hand held Soviet made SAMs (like the Stinger)?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Chris. Four AH-6s and four MH6s. The D-boys carried everything from a modified M14 to customized CAR15s. The weapons are made to the men's specifications. There was no hand-to-hand fighting that I know of. I know of several men with extremity injuries who have suffered permanent diasability, but I don't know how many. Intel (there was a local spy ring operating) was pretty good on that score. One of the helicopter crewmen tells the story of the day an air traffic controller at the base tower made one of the big transport planes fly in directly over the city. He was watching with some of his buddies. "I guess we'll find out now if the Sammies have any Stingers," he said. They didn't. MB

    CPT Jim Lechner Honolulu HI
    In your photo section you have a picture that I took of the target house and the perimeter. Be glad to give you the details. I was Co FSO - SGT Goodale's LT.
    Mark Bowden
    Please call me Captain Lechner: 215-854-2400. I would like very much to talk to you. I have heard much about you. MB

    Bob Frump New York, NY
    Mark, Absolutely astounding. The writing alone blows me away. The package is extraordinary. My congrats to all. I'm sure you've read them, but "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" and Sheehan's "Bright Shining Lie" are outstanding modern combat. Always a fan, doc. But you have another postgraduate degree from me. Many, many, many thanks! Frump
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Doc. Read 'em both. Nice of you to weigh in, and I'll wear the extra degree proudly. MB

    Greg Doig Chicago,Il
    Found out about your series from some fellow rangers on our listserver. Thanks for doing a fine job to date. This was way before my time in the battalion, but some of those that were there have been passing the word about your work.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Greg. Hits to this Web site have been growing at an exponential rate. Ought to make more newspapers consider paying more attention to matters military. MB

    L.H. Burruss Columbia SC
    Are you aware that the 1st American killed in the Somalia intervention was an ex "D-boy"? SGM (ret) Larry "Super Jew" Freedman was killed on 20 Dec 92 near Bardera by a land mine while continuing to serve his country in another government agency. He had preceeded the Marines into both Baidoa and Bardera, and was enroute to provide them advance intelligence in Hoddur when he was killed.
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. In fact my editor on this series, David Zucchino, wrote a detailed story about Freedman after his death. I spoke to Freedman's sister just the other day. MB

    Kim Langley Herndon, VA
    Was use/support of the AC-130 SPECTRE gunship planned for the takedown? Where was SPECTRE? He sure could have helped. Excellent piece, reads better than Clancy.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks a lot, Kim. Spectre was requested as part of the package and turned down by Sec. of Defense Les Aspin. Much controversy ensued. More about that later. MB

    I was there Ft. Campbell, KY
    Mark, there are guys around who was part of the aircraft crews that flew on that mission that would like to contribute to your story to ensure it stays factual, but you would need to go through the the chain of command to do so.
    Mark Bowden
    I have renewed my request to the USSOC public information office to interview anyone at Ft. Campbell who was involved in the Oct.3-4 fight and would like to talk to me. MB

    CHOCKS Ft. Campbell, ky
    Mark, I flew with Alan Barton on Super 68 and I was wondering if you still know how to get in touch with him. I would really like to talk to him again. Thank You
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know. I'm sorry. MB

    Curious Atlanta, GA
    Did Delta do anything wrong? Sounds like you're on their payrole. Where was the officer leadership for Delta? Did they make ANY decisions? Were they on the ground?
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    Bob Albino Winter Park, FLA
    Go Moose! Good job Marc! I'll give your work a plug in my ROTC class....
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. Who is Moose? MB

    Kim Langley Herndon, VA
    Mark, Ref Chap 17, two quick technical points:#1 Blackhawks don't have skids they use wheels, #2, Blackhawks burn JP-4 (kerosene) not gas. keep up the excellent piece, it't the first thing I read in the morning.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Kim. We've made the fixes. I really appreciate hearing about mistakes, no matter how small. We can correct them online, in the reprint and in my book. MB

    A gunner wrote in to address the fuel issue: "These Blackhawks can burn any type of fuel. We were using JP-5 in Somalia." -- Online editor


    Peter A. Lochetta Doylestown, PA
    One of the most outstanding series I have ever read, Finally, someone has given these men credit for their duty and courage.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Peter. MB

    Jeff Donaldson Fayetteville, NC
    Congratulations, Mr. Bowden, for reintroducing honesty and objectivity to battle reportage.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jeff. It's hard not to admire the men who went through this ordeal. Judging them, from my comfortable chair, would be sinfully presumptuous. MB

    Sixgun Philadelphia, PA
    Would it be possible to obtain photos of the Blackhawks as they appeared just before the mission on Oct 3rd?
    Mark Bowden
    We have run several photos of the Blackhawks, if not on the day of the mission, then just a few days before. They are up on this site. The one of the chopper out over the shoreline with the Rangers dangling legs from the side doors is Durant's Super 64. You might contact USSOC public information for more. MB

    LT Warminster, PA
    Still a great series. As far as the animosity felt by the delta troops toward TFR they should remember they were once young and inexperienced in combat. Some of the rangers will one day be d-boys and may find themselves in a similar situation surrounded by young troops in a desperate firefight and remember what is needed and expected of them and Iím sure they too will rise to they occasion. Experience is our greatest teacher.
    Scott Buchanan Phila, Pa
    While this story itself is very compelling and important, I just want to say I think you are also pioneering a new frontier by including audio and video alongside the article itself. Perhaps this multimedia approach with such a wealth of information and immediacy will become a new standard for journalism and even books with audio and video CD's inside. Thanks for your efforts...
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Scott. People are starting to notice. MB

    Sean Naylor Washington. D.C.
    Mark, did you get the material I faxed you after our phone conversation? Regarding the Infantry magazine piece cited in an earlier question, it's by Capt. Charles P. Ferry, and is in the Sept./Oct. '94 issue. I have a copy if you can't get one elsewhere.
    Mark Bowden
    Yes I did, Sean. Thank you very much. Sorry I haven't phoned to thank you in person. I've been swamped. If you could mail the Infantry Mag piece to me I'd like to see it: Phila. Inquirer/400 N. Broad Street/Phila. PA 19101. MB

    John Lock Somerville, NJ
    Mark: Not a question, just praise for your extraordinary work. My book on the complete Ranger history will be published May98. TF Ranger obviously is an integral part of it so I know a little about this mission. On behalf of all Rangers and Tab wearers everywhere, I thank you for what you have done here. MAJ J. Lock
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, John. I'll be looking for your book. MB

    Bill Pizzie Sewell, NJ
    Great job, Mark. One question I have so far is where were the other blackhawks and "little birds" when the convoy moved toward Super 61? In the beginning the helicopters provided excellent coverage for the convoy, but when they got lost, they seemed to have disappeared.
    Mark Bowden
    The newspaper series has required more of a tight focus than the book will. Several Blackhawks remained overhead, but after Wolcott and Durant were shot down, Super 62 (Mike Goffena's) was shot down and crash landed, Dan Jollota's Super 68 was hit and crash landed ... the bigger birds were wisely keeping their distance. One more does come in close (and get hit) later in the story. Keep reading, and thanks. MB

    Patrick Murphy Chicago IL
    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Somalia (1966-67), working with the Somali National Police. I lived in Mogadishu but traveled throughout the country, from Hargeisa to Kismayo. During that period, there were 6 documented homicides in the entire country, mostly related to waterhole fights. WHAT HAPPENED????
    Mark Bowden
    I would suggest reading Michael Marin's excellent book "The Road to Hell," which documents the effect international aid programs (Good Intentions) had on Somalia during the 1980s and early 90s. The Cold War and the revolution that ousted Siad Barre left the country flooded with weaponry (American and Soviet). The breakdown of tribal culture and the creation of widespread dependency on international handouts was bad enough, add weapons and ... voila! MB

    Abdi Hirad Alexandria, VA
    Why does the story sound as if all Somalis (not Somalians)were fighting in this battle? Did you try to interview any Somalis working with this unit. Please do, as they have completly different picture than what is in here because they were in a very unconfortable position. I was when I was there in the first six months. Thank you.
    Mark Bowden
    I did concentrate my efforts on finding those who fought against American troops. When I was in Mogadishu, I was told again and again that on October 3rd just about everybody who could put their hands on a weapon to use against the Rangers did so. I did, nevertheless, interview people who were, it seems, innocent victims, and more of their stories are coming. Keep reading. MB

    CE Columbia, SC
    Excellent work. What part did the Malaysians play in the rescue operation? And, why didn't TFR call for air support from 10th Mountain's ATK Bn? 10th AV BDE had AH-64s ready to fly but never got the call.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. More about the Malaysians coming. I don't know why TFR didn't request the help you suggest, except that they perhaps felt the 160th gunships had the matter in hand. Sometimes when you put too many guns into the air you create more problems for yourself. MB

    Scott Riney Littleton, Colorado
    Were Bradley's or LAV's available at the time with armor packages sufficient to protect passengers from RPG-7 projectiles?
    Mark Bowden
    Bradleys were requested and rejected by Defense Sec. Aspin. I don't know if they would be impervious to RPG assault. MB

    BP Alexandria, VA
    Just want to say as so many others have that your rivetting and well-researched account of this horrific fight is a powerfully moving piece of work. It is similar in that to the Galloway/Moore book "We Were Soldiers Once and Young," a classic of its kind. Thank you for the effort.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I'm very flattered by the comparison to that fine book. MB

    SGT Mike Clauss Honolulu, HI
    Your work is a gripping oration of the horror these fighting me lived through. I wasn't a trigger puller but was on the ground 7-93 to 3-94. I would like to contribute to your effort from the 10th Mountain perspective.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, and please do contribute, Mike. Call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    Curious in Atlanta, GA (above) asks:" Did Delta do anything wrong? Sounds like you're on their payrole..." No, 'Curious', they're on OUR payroll, thank God. You must have Bowden and our Soldiers confused with the current crop of politicians.( I'd be glad to discuss this further, if you like, but not in Mr. Bowden's space.) LHBurruss@aol.com
    I dont understand all the operators slamming on each other (d-boys and pave guy's). When the horn goes off we have a job to do.
    Gunny Miller TX
    Great research/writing. Sorry for the complaint, but come on, three page chapters? Not earlier... Praise to the troops, but I'd love to "meet" some commanders.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Gunny. A number of people have complained about the short chapters. You have to remember this is, first and foremost, a newspaper series. The series has been averaging 30 to 40 inches of copy in the paper every day. That's a long newspaper article. The Inquirer's editor, Max King, is rightly concerned about giving readers too long a story every day for 30 days. The Inquirer does often run much bigger pieces, and the Sunday stories in this series have been up to 100 inches or so, which is a huge newspaper article. As I writer I'd sure rather have 'em clamoring for tomorrow's installment than struggling to keep up. MB

    Terminator5 Savannah, GA
    I was the XO for the lead 2-14th IN rifle company that finally broke through to the Rangers on northern crash site. Great work on telling the courage and sacrifice of Rangers. Perhaps sometime someone will tell 2-14 IN story - the BN suffered 2 KIA and over 45 wounded in several fights to include 3-4 October. All gave some, but some gave all.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. More coming. Keep reading. If you're so inclined, call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    L.H. Burruss Columbia, SC
    Mr. Bowden; may I suggest that you include a space for the commenter to include his/her email address in the "post your question" block, so that we can respond to each other directly, without making everyone have to read our comments to each other? (e.g., I want to assure the Pave Low guy that all SOF don't denigrate their capability; after all, they led the AH-64s into Iraq at D-1, and I'd fly into HELL with Rotor Rakip (for example...) Buckshot
    Mark Bowden
    I'll pass your suggestion on to Jennifer, although I get a kick out of the dialogue. I do think these various units are all a little too hard on each other. Thanks. MB

    We've set up a forum for folks to discuss the series, away from Mark Bowden's questions & answer area. Our talk show forums require registration to make postings (you can read them without registering). Once you're registered, you can post as much as you want. Just keep the language clean, please. -- Online ed.


    Matthew Ford Brooklyn, NY
    Impressive series and media presentation, good sir--I was in Wpns Plt, C/3/75 at the time of these events (sitting in Georgia) and have a number of comments and questions I hope to address you in a forum more personal than this comment form. matthew@asan.com
    Mark Bowden
    I'll contact you, Matt. MB

    Tori Brisbane, Australia
    I'd be interested in hearing your views on *why* this occurred; ie. I've read and been told this was a continuance of, and subsequent reaction to, June 5/6, events relating to RadioMog, which were ordered by Clinton.
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading, Tori. I'll be writing more on that at the end of the series. I thought such a story would be better read and understood after the battle story was told. MB

    TGeorge Franklin, TN
    Mark, very nice writing. I wish you luck and good fortune in tracking down as many additional primary witnesses as possible. Looking forward to the book.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. A lot more people have surfaced, and I think the series has dispelled some fears guys had about my motivations. MB

    air, B 1/75,79-81 steamboat, co
    MB, you are the BEST,man. what an investigative effort you have put in! many MANY RGRs are impressed with the job you have done telling this story. NOTE to RANGER personnel, please see: http://www.airborne-ranger.com/listserver.html
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks MB

    DJ Bragg
    I can't let the statement go by that most of the D-boys recruits come out of the 75th Ranger and the 82nd Airborne. We get our people from the 75th Rangers and the Green Berets! Very seldom do we get anyone from the 82! In my (unusually large)class we had one from the 82--who didn't make it.
    DJ Bragg
    "Animosity" is a poor choice of words to describe the relationship between Delta and the Rangers; we had trouble because we are two forces that operate differently. Delta Steave came under fire by his own Ranger blocking force...that is why the second force from Delta came in-country the next day--to take over blocking force duty from the Rangers. Rangers dersearve no bad-mouthing.
    Sue McLean.VA
    Mark, please keep this an open forum...the questions and both your answers and other responses are as interesting and revealing as your article. Thanks for the advice to "keep reading" - all is beginning to come clearer.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Sue. MB

    JPD Mechanicsburg, PA
    Did the U.N. ever estimate how many Somali's were killed by their own fire? If there were 1000's of RPG rounds expended the ones that didn't hit anything in the air surely came back down. Unlike air defense ammo that has a timed fuze to assure detonation while still in the air, an RPG only detonates on contact.
    Mark Bowden
    You are probably right, since the Somalis were mostly missing with their RPGs. One soldier on the convoy told me that if the Somalis had better aim, none of the Americans would have made it out alive. I know of no effort to count Somali "friendly fire" casualties. MB

    COL Bill David, USA Fort Bragg, NC
    The absence of key figures in the "Who's Who" segment of this piece leads me to believe that there will be virtually no mention of the role played by TF 2-14 IN in rescuing the trapped Rangers - a separate 17 hour fight in its own right. Correct or incorrect?
    Mark Bowden
    Incorrect. The "Who's who" is updated for the most part with the chapters, so we don't include a character until he appears in the story. The idea is to help people remember characters in a story with so many names. As you know better than anyone, Col. David, the 10th's role in the fight comes at the end. Please give me a call. I would like very much to interview you, if you are so inclined. MB

    dan fort bragg nc
    the 1 hour video was not shown in our area. is there a way to get a copy of it? several guys here are very interested. thanks
    Mark Bowden
    Yes. You can email Chris Mills, the producer, at chris.mills@phillynews.com. MB

    CE Columbia, SC
    I made a mistake in my first question. It was not AH-64s that 10th AV had in Mogadishu. It was AH-1s. I spoke to a CW-4 in early November, at the airfield in Mogadishu, who said they waited to launch, but never got called. Understanding the RTF need to operate as a unit, it seems ironic that they wouldn't call for all the American help they could, when they had to rely on coalition forces ultimately.
    Mark Bowden
    The coalition was relied on only for armor, the tanks and APCs. All the troops were TFR or 10th Mountain Division. MB

    Vince Deets Audubon, NJ
    Please note that T/SGT Wilkinson and M/Sgt. Fales are Pararescuemen not "parajumpers". Pararescue has been involved in every conflict since WWII with little or no recognition. The Air Cross has been awarded 20 times. twelve to Pararescuemen (Including T/Sgt .Wilkinson).
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Vince. Tim has no objection to being called a "parajumper," but the correction is noted. More on Tim coming. Keep reading. MB

    JOC Cleve Hardman Arlington, VA
    Thank you for an excellent series. It is about time the story of Mogadishu came to light. I was part of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service on the University Compound in Mogadishu from September '93 to January '94. It was a tough time to watch the fighting in the distance while making pleas for blood drives over the air to assist the wounded.
    Mark Bowden
    I'll bet. Thanks. MB

    SPC Wigod San Jose, CA
    Mark, got lots of docs/audio tapes regarding what started this whole thing, June 5th, 1993. Give me a buzz or an email, let's talk. 408-245-5803, wigod@ix.netcom.com 149th Armor, Men and Steel
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch. Thanks. MB

    Win Stauufer Philadelphia, PA
    The politics and state dept. were the biggest hindrances in Somalia.As a Marine infantry officer I spent enormous amounts of time trying to coordinate the possible USLO compound evacuation. I would like to comment on the overall apathy and lack of cooperation on our their part and the multinational forces. WStauffer@SEIC.com
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Jim Gillem Downingtown, PA
    Compelling, I,ve alway's wondered why some type of incapacitation gas wasn't used.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I've never heard anyone suggest gas. I suspect in a busy city, outdoors, with choppers blowing everything all over the place, it would be quite a task. MB

    gordon ft benning, ga
    Mr. Bowden, I appreciate your quick response. However, it still doesn't answer the questions I asked. Specifically your verification process of the events as they supposedly happened. It is a fact that even though you state you took great care to confirm the events of those two days I think its important to note that it is well known within the Ranger Regimental community that you did not talk to Brad Thomas, Jeff Struecker and alot of the Rangers you quote. Herein lies the discrepincies. To justify what you write by insinuating that you confirmed these words with others who heard these folks relating stories is both misleading and irresponsible. Although I know that this is the way journalism is given the latitude to record historical data, it remains for the soldiers involved a sensitive issue. When putting pen to paper about what happened in combat, you need to remember that artistic liberty does not mean sacrificing the facts--this is the reason for asking my questions.
    Mark Bowden
    I interviewed Jeff Struecker at Ft. Benning, at length. Audio clips made from that interview are available on this Web site. Listen and hear him talk about his experiences.

    I spoke to Brad on the phone, and he was not given permission to talk to me at length. Other Rangers interviewed who were present: Steve Anderson, Dale Sizemore and Peter Squeglia. Sizemore also appeared at length in the companion documentary, from which numerous video clips are included on this Web site -- including a list of Sizemore's video comments.

    The stories you are reading come directly from the men involved. MB


    gordon ft bening, ga
    In reading your introductory article, you mention the rift between Rangers and Delta Force. As a member of the regiment for virtually my entire 15 year Army career, I have yet to find a Ranger within this Regiment that conveys those thoughts. So my question is, from which side is this animosity being relayed to you? Since I feel pretty confident that its not a Ranger and I find hard to believe its one of the shooters, what reliable source is it coming from?
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    Bill Davis West Chester, Pa.
    Excellent article. So much for "The glory of war."
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Rick Raleigh, NC
    As for RPGs and armor: Armor is less vulnerable to RPG's than Humvees are to small Arms. Most likely is a mobility kill where a track gets blown off. Tanks have trouble turning their long guns in narow streets. The Bradley 25mm doesn't stick out past the sides very far, so no problem.
    Mark Bowden
    I think I'll leave this one to you guys who know what you're talking about. MB



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