FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker hosted a Battle of Mogadishu Remembrance ceremony Sept. 30 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
Retired CW3 Perry Alliman, a veteran of the Somalia campaign, spoke at the event, saying that it is a good thing that people still take time to remember those who fell during the conflict.
“We do this to not only help our fellow Soldiers, but to also comfort their families and remember those who have fallen in the past,” he said, adding that his Somalia story took place about a week prior to the battle, Sept. 25, 1993, when his UH-60 Black Hawk was shot down on the streets of Mogadishu.
The explosion and crash killed three Soldiers in the back of the aircraft, but the pilot, CW3 Dale Shrader and Alliman survived. Shrader pulled the severely injured Alliman into a nearby alley, and held off two Somali militia members armed with AK-47s with his 9mm handgun for several hours before eventually finding their way to a rescue team, the speaker recounted.
When Shrader had used up all five of the Soldiers’ magazines, he made his way over to Alliman, saying “Perry … John 3:16, John 3:16,” the speaker added. “I asked him years later, ‘Dale, why didn’t you just say the verse?’ He said, ‘I was so scared, I couldn’t remember it.’
He said he actually learned about the battle while in Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, recovering from his wounds.
“It wasn’t the end of my career, I was able to go back to flying,” he said, adding that he was able to go back on flight status about six months after he sustained his injuries.
Alliman said he knew many of the people involved in and lost during the battle, and that he held animosity towards the enemy and greatly desired to return to finish the job.
Eventually though, he added, he discovered what he really needed to fully heal – forgiveness.
“Would you like to have a healthier relationship with your family? Would you like to have improved mental health? Would you like to have less anxiety … fewer symptoms of depression? Improved heart health? Improved self-esteem? Who doesn’t want all of those things?” Alliman said. “In the Bible, Jesus says to people standing there at the Sermon on the Mount, for if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Jesus said you must forgive.
“I realized that I needed to do something, and that something was to forgive these people,” he said. “I just read to you about these different health benefits (of forgiveness), but that’s not from Bible – that’s from the Mayo Clinic. They did a study on forgiveness and they realized that people who forgive experience tremendous health benefits if they will find a way to do it. It’ not an easy process – I’m not telling you it is easy to do.”
After Alliman spoke, the ceremony featured a roll call of the fallen, a moment of silence and the playing of “Taps.” Garrison chaplain, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Peter Hofman, then provided the benediction.