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US military releases video in honor of the Battle of Mogadishu 26 years ago today

Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Somalia, 1993 (Wikimedia Commons/Released)
October 03, 2019

Twenty-six years ago today, U.S. Forces from Task Force Ranger set out for the Somali city of Mogadishu to capture the Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed.

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That day would be remembered years later for the downing of two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the intense urban fighting that followed, coined “Battle of Mogadishu,” which inspired the events of the film “Black Hawk Down.”

In remembrance of the battle’s 26th anniversary, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) shared footage from the downing of the U.S. helicopters in a Facebook post.

Mogadishu, Somalia 1993

This real world footage of the gunning down of two MH-60 Blackhawks in Mogadishu, Somalia happened on this day in 1993. The harrowing events to follow would inspire the movie "Black Hawk Down."Task Force RANGER was sent to capture warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. Six missions into the capital were a tactical success, the seventh resulted in the two downed helicopters forcing a rescue operation.Facing an overwhelming Somali mob overrunning the crashed helicopter sites, the task force more than held their own against a vastly superior enemy battle-hardened from years of civil war and urban fighting. Task Force RANGER would experience a total of 17 killed in action and 106 wounded. The Somali death toll is estimated in the hundreds. Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in trying to save the downed helicopter crew.We commemorate the lives lost on that historic day in 1993. We will never forget.

Posted by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) on Monday, September 30, 2019

After the helicopters went down, Task Force Ranger worked to protect the crash sites from Somali mobs and a numerically superior force of Somali fighters.

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In the resulting battle, 17 members of the task force were killed and 106 more were wounded. Somali death tolls in the battle are estimated in the hundreds.

“We commemorate the lives lost on that historic day in 1993. We will never forget,” the post reads.

The U.S. involvement in Somalia began initially as an effort to support U.N. peacekeeping efforts during Operation Restore Hope. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the U.N. started providing assistance in 1992 for Somalis suffering from famine.

The U.S. forces prepared to intervene after Aideed began attacking those U.N. peacekeepers. According to the Smithsonian, the plan was to arrest two of Aideed’s lieutenants and gathered leaders of his Somali Habar Gidir clan. Rangers planned to helicopter in and deploy from fast-ropes to surround a three-story building in Mogadishu where the militant clan leaders would be gathered.

A ground convoy was prepared to carry away those Rangers and their captives. In total, the plan called for the use of 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and about 160 troops; however, what was meant to be a quick “snatch-and-grab” mission became an 18-hour firefight through the urban center of Mogadishu.

In the opening minutes of the operation, Somali crowds gathered in the spectacle, but eventually turned hostile

Two of the Black Hawk helicopters were brought down by ground fire and U.S. forces jumped to action in an effort to rescue those helicopter crews.

Among those rescue efforts, two Delta Force Soldiers Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart elected to respond alone to one of the crash sites, despite growing mobs. The two fended off numerous attackers before being overwhelmed and killed as they attempted to save one of the pilots, Michael Durant.

“They were textbook special ops guys,” Durant said in a 2008 interview with Defense Media Network. He said they showed no signs of panic as they held off attacks for about 15 minutes.

Durant was eventually captured by Somali fighters, and held prisoner for 11 days.

Gordon and Shughart were later awarded the Medal of Honor for their defense of the downed helicopter.

Despite the professional efforts of U.S. forces, much of the media fallout from the battle fixated on Somali mobs dragging U.S. bodies through the streets of Mogadishu and according to the Smithsonian, then-President Bill Clinton elected to remove U.S. forces from Somalia by March 1994.

Clinton would later recall the events of the battle as one of the “darkest hours” of his presidency, according to Allthatsinteresting.com.