By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 12, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Soldiers involved in the battle made famous by the movie "Black Hawk Down" were memorialized with an inaugural remembrance ceremony on Fort Rucker that saw hundreds of today's Soldiers honor those who fought and fell.
Units from across the installation gathered on Howze Field Oct. 3 for the installation's first commemoration of the Battle of Mogadishu, which consisted of a remembrance ceremony, a combat-focused training event and a speaking engagement with veterans of the battle, said Lt. Col. Chris Robishaw, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Special Operations Element.
"On Oct. 3, 1993, U.S. Special Operations Forces from Task Force Ranger operating in Mogadishu, Somalia launched a daytime mission into the Bakaara Market to capture high-priority targets loyal to war criminal Mohammed Farrah Aidid," he said during the ceremony. "The raid, meant to last no longer than one hour, quickly shifted when Somali militia, armed with assault rifles, machine guns and [rocket-propelled grenades] managed to shoot down multiple UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters."
During the operation, the numbers of armed Somalis increased into the tens of thousands, causing U.S. Rangers and special operators to become pinned down in a 19-hour standoff that lasted through the night, said Robishaw. In all, 18 U.S. Soldiers were lost in the battle before armored vehicles were able to extract the remaining American forces from the city.
To commemorate the battle, Soldiers participated in the Mogadishu Mile event, which began on Ruf Avenue and consisted of a three-mile physical training route. The route was marked with 18 stations on the shoulder of the road in remembrance of each of the 18 Soldiers lost.
"The Mogadishu Mile refers to a route that was run by Rangers and (special forces members) from a helicopter crash site to an appointed rally point held by the 10th Mountain Division on National Street, during the Battle of Mogadishu," said Robishaw. "Originally, they were supposed to take cover by running alongside a convoy of Humvees and armored personnel carriers. However, when the convoy failed to understand the vehicles were needed for cover, they left them, and the Soldiers were forced to run without support and with very little ammunition."
For one veteran of the battle, George Siegler, who was a 19-year-old private first class during the battle, the day of remembrance is one that he feels great appreciation for.
"It's a strange feeling," he said, "but I think it's absolutely amazing that somebody is taking the time to recognize the fallen. It's a good feeling, so I had to come and be a part of it."
Siegler was a part of 1st Platoon, B Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, and was one of the Soldiers who roped in on the blocking position to pull security at the objective building, but quickly realized during the mission that it was going to be anything but a typical day.
"I do remember seeing the first aircraft do what I thought was a fishtail, and, being a non-Aviator, I didn't know what [the pilot] had done because I'd lost sight of him, but it was shortly after that my team leader came over and said that we were going to move to an aircraft that went down, and that's when it kind of hit me," he said.
For Siegler, that 19-hour firefight became the longest night of his life, but it also taught him that Soldiers, no matter their position in the Army, must be ready for a fight at all times.
"First, you're fighting for the guys and gals to your left and right, and regardless of whatever your position in the military, you've always got to be ready to fight," he said. "[When the ground convoys] finally got back to the airfield, they grabbed everybody they could -- cooks, shop folks -- and threw them in vehicles. Some people might just get that [mentality] that they just work in the [one area] or I just do this or do that [for their job], but you can't forget about those basic skills."