For those of us who remember it as if it were yesterday, it’s hard to believe that Operation Gothic Serpent, more specifically, the Battle of Mogadishu, took place 30 years ago, over 3-4 OCT 1993.

During that fight, an MH-60L Black Hawk helicopter with the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) was brought down after being hit in the tail rotor by an RPG-7. It was the second Black Hawk downed that fateful day, and all aboard, except pilot Chief Warrant Officer Three Michael Durant, were killed. Their call sign was Super Six Four, and their story lives forever in the annals of American military history.


The crew of Super Six Four in Somalia, 1993. Left to right: Winn Mahuron (mechanic), Tommy Field, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank, Mike Durant. Image courtesy of

Lone Survivor

The lone survivor of the Super Six Four crew, Chief Durant, is, of course, the best person to tell her tale. Most of the following information was obtained during his interview for The Year in Special Operations: 2008 Edition.

As part of Operation Gothic Serpent, Super Six Four and her crew had finished their mission of inserting Rangers into downtown Mogadishu. Following this, Durant led his flight north of the city, where they remained as part of a contingency force. Supposedly, their work for the day was done. But unfortunately, that ended up being far from the case.

A call came over the radio that a Black Hawk flying over the city, Super Six One, had just been hit in the tail rotor by an RPG and was going down. With Six One down, Six Four was called to take her place and provide fire support for the downed craft.

The Fog of War

With one Black Hawk down and scores of friendlies and locals converging on the crash site, the fog of war began to set in. Durant armed his crew chief’s guns. He explains the situation:

“So, we’re having a heck of a time sorting out where everybody is. We’ve got these mini-guns that’ll fire over 4,000 rounds a minute. We don’t want to just go crazy, hosing down the countryside until we know where all the friendlies are. So, in the end, we never fired a round. And I don’t regret that at all. We never had sufficient understanding of the tactical situation to do it. I armed the crew chief’s guns, but we all talked about how we weren’t going to shoot until we all agreed we had it all figured out, because there were just too many friendlies down there.”