CBS has obtained an incredible footage showing the “Super 61”, one of the helicopters downed during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, taken by one of the Special Forces operators aboard Little Bird helicopter. The Battle of Mogadishu was a part of the infamous Operation Gothic Serpent that aimed at capturing the Mogadishu Warlord, Mohammed Farrah Aidid.
Update: the video is no longer available from the original source. Here’s a more recent version shared by US SOCOM:
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.”
We commemorate the lives lost on that historic day in 1993. We will never forget. pic.twitter.com/B09FY0YiGm
— USSOCOM (@USSOCOM) October 3, 2019
The mission that lead to Battle of Mogadishu known also as Battle of the Black Sea aimed at capturing the leadership of the Aidid’s organization. On Sept. 21, 1993 Aidid financial leader, Osman Ali Atto was captured by Delta Force.
That battle was one of the main milestones in the field of Special Forces tactics applied in the urban warfare. Many mistakes were made and many lessons learnt.
As mentioned in the CBS material after the Somalian crisis no US soldier goes to fight without NVG (Night Vision Gogles) or water supply. The operation that was to last just a few minutes dramatically extended to over 17,5 hours.
During the first few hours of the mission Super 61 Black Hawk was shot down by the rebels. Later the second bird, Super 64 was shot down as well.
This time Delta Force’s Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart volunteered heroically to secure the crash site. The Somalis killed Gordon and Shughart, taking Durant, the pilot, a hostage. Both Shughart and Gordon received posthumous Medal of Honor.
The remaining Delta operators and US Rangers fought their way to the crash site. They were eventually rescued by the US Army 10th Mountain Division with the help of the UN forces consisting of Pakistani and Malaysian soldiers.
When it comes to the video it is unclear which unit’s soldier shot it, as large part of the Somali operation is still classified. It features the moment of shooting down of Super 61. It was shot from the surveilance Little Bird that coordinated the operation. The thing that is worth noting is the distance the chopper flew from the place it was hit.
The CBS journalists state a thesis that Mogadishu was a defining battle for 160th SOAR (Special Operations Air Force Regiment). Moreover it is claimed that it was back in 1993 when the US forces have met Al Qaeda in battle. There is another interesting claim, that it was the 1993 battle that made the US and UN go back to the isolation policy with a smaller extent of involvement in the local conflicts.
Former US Army intelligence officer David Snelson with his wife, Alisha Ryu, have lived in Mogadishu for the past three years.
They decided to recover as much of Super 61 as they could, as they learned about a construction site being planned there. Snelson told CBS:
“Above anything else, you think about the men…what they went through. We didn’t do this for anybody else but them. I’ll get [the Super 61’s remains] home.”
The recovered remains, including the rotor blade and foot pedals, are now presented in the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist
I made a google map back in 2008 to sort out all of the information from the several books on Battle of the Black Sea. This new footage allowed me to easily confirm that the map was correct, that it was the target building I had Google mapped, you can see it today its not much different. if you see any mistakes please update the map. Thanks CBS for getting this footage out, and thanks to The Aviationist for publishing this great story.
And to think, if Clinton / SOD Aspin had merely left any of the armor in Mogadishu during the mission instead of “de-militarizing”. The Blackhawk crews could have been rescued without having to dodge swarms of angry locals. The USMC previously held the city and took its M-60 MBT’s home as they rotated out. As a result, the beleagured American / allied soldiers had to wait for Paki M-113 APC’s to (finally) effect a rescue. Yes, I know about the narrow streets in parts of the city. But there are ample boulevards for ingress / egress and rendezvous to have been conducted. And, imagine a 105mm canister round (aka “beehive”) fired down an alley at approaching militia. The “Blackhawk Down” movie would have been reduced from 120 minutes to about 15 instead !