Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down

For the first time since the events of ‘Black Hawk Down’ twenty years ago, two U.S. Army Rangers who were engaged in the battle return to Mogadishu, Somalia to relive the firefight in the suburbs. The Battle of Mogadishu, or Day of the Rangers (Somali: Maalintii Rangers), was part of Operation Gothic Serpent which hit world headlines at the time.

On October 3, 1993, U.S. Special Operations Forces consisted from Task Force Ranger operating in Mogadishu, Somalia launched a daytime full-scale mission into the Bakaara Market to capture high-priority targets loyal to warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid. The raid, meant to last no longer than one hour, quickly shifted when armed Somalia militia and other local forces, armed with assault weapons and RPG’s, managed to shoot down multiple UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

As the numbers of armed Somalis quickly increased into the tens of thousands, U.S. Rangers and Special Operators, heroically attempting to defend both crash sites, quickly found themselves pinned down and surrounded in a 19-hour standoff that lasted throughout the night. Using AH-6 Little Bird helicopters and additional ground forces, many of whom went back into the city multiple times, U.S. forces repelled repeated attempts by the Somalis to overrun positions held by American operators until the morning when a convoy of the Humvees and APCs extracted the last American soldiers in the city. Ultimately, 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in the most intense combat firefight since the Vietnam War.

Now, more than 20 years later, Jeff Struecker, a former Army Ranger who took part in the battle and a key character in the movie, returns to what is still considered as one of the most dangerous places in the world, the lawless streets of Mogadishu, to relive the battle. In this daring attempt to retrace the exact route the rescue convoy took during the firefight, movie director reveals Jeff’s story first hand while driving through the narrow city streets as they identify key landmarks from the film and come within blocks of the original target building in Bakaraa Market. With some of the first footage shot from inside the notorious “Bakaara Market” where the battle took place, Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down uncovers the fear, courage, and faith experienced by the special forces operators during the battle in a way never before experienced as Jeff fights with the aftermath of a place that reshaped his own perspectives on life and death and ultimately changed his life.

Jeff Struecker

A decorated member of the U.S. Army’s most elite fighting corps, Jeff Struecker was prominently featured in the national bestseller “Black Hawk Down,” later made into a major motion picture. He served for ten years in the 75th Ranger Regiment in positions from Private to Platoon Sergeant. While serving in this unit Jeff competed in and won the David L. Grange Best Ranger Competition in 1996. His combat experience includes participation in the invasion of Panama, Operation Desert Storm, Black Hawk Down in Somalia, and more than a dozen combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jeff is an award-winning author with five books in print. He and his wife Dawn, “the most patriotic American he knows,” have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail, and Lydia.

Keni Thomas

An American country music singer and former United States Army Ranger, Keni was a member of Task Force Ranger as a part of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and he served in the Battle of Mogadishu. Thomas works as a motivational speaker drawing from this experience as a US Army Ranger. As a country singer, Keni has recorded several independently-released albums and two singles, from the album Flags of Our Fathers:A Soldier’s Story charted on the Billboard country music charts. Follow Keni on Facebook and Twitter.