â€śNo matter how skilled the writer of nonfiction, you are always getting the story secondhand. Hereâ€™s a chance to go right to the source. . . . These men were there.â€ťâ€“MARK BOWDEN (from the Foreword)It started as a mission to capture a Somali warlord. It turned into a disastrous urban firefight and death-defying rescue operation that shocked the world and rattled a great nation. Now the 1993 battle for Mogadishu, Somaliaâ€“the incident that was the basis of the book and film Black Hawk Downâ€“is remembered by the men who fought and survived it. Six of the best in our military recall their brutal experiences and brave contributions in these never-before-published, firstperson accounts.â€śOperation Gothic Serpent,â€ť by Matt Eversmann: As a â€śchalkâ€ť leader, Eversmann was part of the first group of Rangers to â€śfast ropeâ€ť from the Black Hawk helicopters. It was his chalk that suffered the first casualty of the battle.â€śSua Sponte: Of Their Own Accord,â€ť by Raleigh Cash: Responsible for controlling and directing fire support for the platoon, Cash entered the raging battle in the ground convoy sent to rescue his besieged brothers in arms.â€śThrough My Eyes,â€ť by Mike Kurth: One of only two African Americans in the battle, Kurth confronted his buddiesâ€™ deaths, realizing that â€śthe only people whom I had let get anywhere near me since I was a child were gone.â€ťâ€śWhat Was Left Behind,â€ť by John Belman: He roped into the biggest firefight of the battle and considers some of the mistakes that were made, such as using Black Hawk helicopters to provide sniper cover.â€śBe Careful What You Wish For,â€ť by Tim Wilkinson: He was one of the Air Force pararescuemen or PJsâ€“the highly trained specialists for whom â€śThat Others May Liveâ€ť is no catchphrase but a credoâ€“and sums up his incomprehensible courage as â€śjust holding up my end of the deal on a bad day.â€ťâ€śOn Friendship and Firefights,â€ť by Dan Schilling: As a combat controller, he was one of the original planners for the deployment of SOF forces to Mogadishu in the spring of 1993. During the battle, he survived the initial assault and carnage of the vehicle convoys only to return to the city to rescue his two closest friends, becoming, literally, â€śLast Out.â€ťWith Americaâ€™s withdrawal from Somalia an oft-cited incitement to Osama bin Laden, it is imperative to revisit this seminal military mission and learn its lessons from the men who were there and, amazingly, are still here.
History, Africa, Somalia,