running up that hill
- Jan 3, 2007
- in Wonderland, with my Alice
FORT BENNING, Ga. (USASOC News Service, Oct. 6, 2008) — Rangers of the Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment conducted a 5K unit moral run Oct. 3 to commemorate the six Rangers who were killed during Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia Oct. 3-4, 1993.
The 72 Rangers from Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Ranger Battalion, and the Regimental Headquarters, which were formed into nine seven-man squads and one nine-man squad, ran in combat gear, simulating the Mogadishu Mile that was run by American Rangers and Delta Force Soldiers from a helicopter crash site to the Pakistani Stadium during the Battle of Mogadishu Oct. 4, 1993.
During the 1993 Mogadishu mile, the Soldiers were originally supposed to take cover by running alongside a convoy of Humvees and armored personnel carriers, however when the convoy outpaced them they were forced to run without support and with very little ammunition. No one was wounded on the 48 minute run, however the convoy and the Soldiers on foot were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.
Former 3rd Battalion commander, retired Col. Danny McKnight, was the guest speaker at the end of the run.
McKnight and his wife Linda began a pilgrimage last month to visit with the families of the six Rangers that were killed 15 years ago.
“I cannot tell you how much it means to me to be here on this day with the Rangers,” said McKnight addressing the Rangers. “You all are the finest Soldiers in the Army.”
While McKnight is at Fort Benning, he will visit the grave site of Cpl. James Cavaco who was killed on the lost convoy.
There were times after we returned from Somalia that the MPs would drive by the Fort Benning Cemetery and see Rangers sitting at Jimmy’s grave-site, said McKnight.
“They were just talking to their brother,” said McKnight.
Rangers killed on that day were:
Cpl. Jamie Smith
Spc. James Cavaco
Sgt. Casey Joyce
Pfc. Richard “Alphabet” Kowalewski
Sgt. Dominick Pilla
Sgt. Lorenzo Ruiz
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for what you do every day, I wish you God speed, Rangers Lead the Way,” said McKnight.
Additional information about the battle of Mogadishu.
The Battle of Mogadishu was part of Operation Gothic Serpent by forces of the United States supported by the United Nations Operations in Somali against Somali militia fighters loyal to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
The assault force was made up of US Army Delta Force, Ranger teams an air element provided by the 160th Speical Operations Aviation Regiment, four Navy Seals from SEAL Team 6 and members of the Air Force Pararescue/Air Force Combat Controllers, executed an operation which involved traveling from their compound on the outskirs of the city to capture tier one personalities of the Habr Gidr clan, headed by Aidid. The assault force composed of nineteen aircraft, twelveve vehicles and 160 men.
During the operation, two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenades and three others were damaged. Some of the soldiers were able to evacuate wounded back to the compound, but others were trapped at the crash sites and cut off. An urban battle ensued throughout the night.
Early the next morning, a combined task force was sent to rescue the trapped soldiers. It contained soldiers from Pakistan, Malaysia and the U.S.10th Mountain Division. They assembled some 100 vehicles, including Pakistani tanks (American-made M48s) and Malaysian Condor armored personnel carriers, and were supported by U.S. A/MH-6 Little Bird, and MH-60 helicopters. This task force reached the first crash site and led the trapped soldiers out. The second crash site was overrun and pilot Mike Durant, the lone surviving American from that site, was taken prisoner but later released.