CBS obtains unique footage of the famous Black Hawk going down in Mogadishu 20 years ago

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:

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

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About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. Why has this film been withheld from the American public for 20 years? Who are the government decision makers who decide what, we, as tax payers and citizens are allowed to see?
    Another example of abuse of power…

    • Im sure they have good reason to do so. Just because they classify the material they sre abusing their power. What advatage will it give their personal agendas if they hide it from the public?

      On the other hand, classified materials such as mission planning, execution and equipment and things that are important for the national security of this nation are not released and protected.

      At least that’s how I see it.

      • Overclassification is a never ending battle. It happens in every environment but it is always something that has to be fought back against.

    • Huh? Plenty of things are kept secret. You don’t have the “right” to see everything. And the decision makers include your local congressman. They make the laws.

      • Your comment is narrowly focused, trite, and very simple…yeah…I have the right…my “congressman” didn’t decide to withhold this film because of some sort of “national security” mindset…decisions made to carefully select what is and is not seen is called controlling information all under the behest of the all encompassing “national security” mandate. Tell me what our “enemies” are learning when an RPG hits the the tail assembly of a Blackhawk helicopter…research the Freedom of Information Act…read the “why” this law was passed…

  2. My dad was in Somalia at the time with the Australian Army. He obviously had nothing to do with the operation but was able to witness the smoke from the chopper crashes. Certainly some big lessons to be learned from that one.

    • number one lesson was have armor available for deployment. the USMC used their MBT’s with great effect (see video of USMC combined forces raid on Somali clan compound during their tour in Mogadishu). Suffice to say, having your own allocation of armored vehicles in a hostile region is superior to asking the Paki’s if you can pls borrow their APC’s for a day.

  3. There was no “surveillance littlebird”. Either it was one of the little birds the Delta boys rode in on, or it comes from the video feed of the command chopper which was coordinating the attack from above and sending the feed back to the base. As for how far it flew, if I remember correctly, didnt one Blackhawk take an RPG hit and somehow just barely make it back to the base? People always talk about this battle as if it was a failure; while many mistakes were made and lessons learned, the task force really held their own out there. God bless them and everyone else in uniform.

    • Yes, one of the BHs did it back – three of them were lost.

      Nick – surveillance – I meant the command LB .

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