From earlier this year…
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 our country. Now the 1993 battle for Mogadishu, Somalia — the incident that was the basis for the book and the film Black Hawk Down — is remembered by the men who fought and survived it.
Editors: Matt Eversmann and Dan Schilling
ISBN: 0-345-46668-3 (Presidio Press)
Finished: 19 March 2007
From the index:
“Operation Gothic Serpent,” by Matt Eversmann: As a “chalk” leader, Eversmann was part of the first group of Rangers to “fast rope” from the Black Hawk helicopters. It was his chalk that suffered the first casualty of the battle.
“Sua Sponte: Of Their Own Accord,” 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.
“Through My Eyes,” by Mike Kurth: One of only two African Americans in the battle, Kurth confronted his buddies’ deaths, realizing that “the only people whom I had let get anywhere near me since I was a child were gone.”
“What Was Left Behind,” 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.
“Be Careful What You Wish For,” by Tim Wilkinson: He was one of the Air Force pararescuemen or PJs-the highly trained specialists for whom “That Others May Live” is no catchphrase but a credo-and sums up his incomprehensible courage as “just holding up my end of the deal on a bad day.”
“On Friendship and Firefights,” 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, “Last Out.”
If your only familiar with the movie, forget what you’ve seen. Most of it, anyway. This book expands the personal story of six men from Task Force Ranger. The stories overlap: several were part of the convoy, but in different places; some went back out with the rescue convoy, some didn’t. Two of the men (Wilkinson and Schilling) are Air Force personnel.
Since the stories are in first person, each soldier/airman speaks in his own “voice”. These men are not professional writers and therefore write the way they speak. Each story’s “polish” varies on his abilities to tell a story in written form, with very little outside editing. There is military jargon, but in most cases the meaning is explained and there is a glossary in the back of the book. I haven’t yet read “Black Hawk Down”, though I have it in my TBR pile. I think this book is a good starting point before tackling the denser “BHD”.