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Twenty Years After: "Return to Black Hawk Down"

Return to Black Hawk Down

The 3rd and 4th of October 2013 will mark 20 years since the Battle of Mogadishu took place. Made more famous by the movie "Black Hawk Down!" it propelled Mogadishu and Somalia as familiar places albeit not as some tourist hotspots, but as dangerous hotspots in the world. In an operation that went out of control upon the downing of the Black Hawk helicopter in Operation Gothic Serpent to capture Somali Warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, 18 U.S. soldiers died, with over 1,000 Somalis killed.

Black Hawk Down is a very much a familiar battle among military circles as well as in the airsoft and milsim communities. Operation Irene, which is one of the big events in the Operation Lion Claws Military Simulation Series, is about Black Hawk Down with COL (ret) Danny McKnight being part of this event. Mcknight was the commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion during actual operation.

"Return to Black Hawk Down" is a documentary which shows two Rangers who were part of the Black Hawk Down return to Mogadishu 20 years after. No other combatant during the battle ever returned to the Somali capital and their return still shows the city as one of the most dangerous on earth. It is mainly about Major Jeff Struecker who led a 3-vehicle convoy in Task Force Ranger when he was still a 24-year old Sergeant tasked to retrieve survivors at the crash site.

Already an accomplished author and veteran of some of the significant campaigns of the U.S. military in the 1980s until his retirement in 2011 as a military Chaplain, he returns to Mogadishu to visit the areas of firefights where the beleaguered U.S. Forces fought it out against numerically superior Somali fighters. The Battle of Mogadishu is the most memorable in Struecker's military experience, and it is where he faced the most intense gunfire he ever experienced in his life.

"Return To Black Hawk Down" is also a spiritual experience for Struecker, where he said he made peace with God and was ready to die . This made him calm when he fought hard against overwhelming odds to ensure that his men survived. He said death became less significant for him in Somalia, and eternity became much more real to him.

Watch the video in full, as you will hear him narrate the firefights he fought with his men as they coursed through the streets of Mogadishu, and still seeing the bullet holes they left 20 years ago.

And for airsoft players, it is also reminder that war is never fun. It is always a battle of life and death.