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MILITARY MATTERS: Battle of Mogadishu Heroes Awarded Silver Stars on Fort Benning

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:27 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It’s one of the most famous battles in military history, and involved Rangers trained on Fort Benning. More than a dozen heroes who took part in the Battle of Mogadishu were recently honored in our area.

As demonstrated in a recent reenactment on Fort Benning and in the movie “Black Hawk Down, the Battle of Mogadishu was one of the fiercest urban firefights since the Vietnam War. It took place in Somalia in early October 1993, where 18 Americans died, 80 wounded.

“I think most of us didn’t know the sheer volume of enemy fire, the number of enemy fighters we were up against until we were up against it. Like a classic Ranger competition, you just respond to what’s in front of you and you give it the best you got,” MAJ (Ret) Jeff Struecker, who fought in Battle of Mogadishu, said.

Booms, smoke, gunfire, and helicopters were part of the reenactment on the Army installation this month, as a narrator told the story of this battle from 28 years ago: “a circling black hawk helicopter was struck by a rocket propelled grenade and crashed.”

Nearly three decades later, the men from Special Operations and the Ranger Regiment who fought there came back to Fort Benning for a reunion and recognition.

CSM (Ret) Sean Watson, who also fought in Battle of Mogadishu, said “I felt very fortunate that I was never was in the extreme position that I was in Somalia ever again. Was I prepared for it? Yes I was.”

“I’ve never seen heroism like I witnessed in Mogadishu, Somalia. The guys I saw on those city streets, never seen anything like it before or since” Struecker added.

Taking the stage 1 by 1, Army leaders awarded silvers stars to 18 retired soldiers who were part of Mogadishu. It’s the Armed Forces’ third-highest military decoration for valor in combat.

“Some people I have always held in high regard finally getting the recognition they deserve,” Struecker said.

“I call every one of them close friend, love each and every one of them,” Watson told us.

And to all the young rangers and noncommissioned officers watching this ceremony, admiring the heroes that came before them, Retired Major Jeff Struecker’s advice is get ready: “As the Global War on Terrorism winds down, now you have to be prepared for anything, anywhere, anytime.”

His team agreed that the guidance they got - to believe in yourself and believe in your training - helped them survive Mogadishu.

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