The U.S. Army upgraded the awards of 60 special operators who were involved in Operation Gothic Serpent, specifically the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, a fight commonly known as the “Black Hawk Down” incident.
Fifty-eight awards were upgraded to Silver Stars, the third-highest military combat award for valor, and two were upgraded to the Distinguished Flying Cross, an award for heroism during an aerial fight, the Army announced Thursday.
Operation Gothic Serpent was a military mission by a U.S.-led coalition during a civil war in Somalia. A primary objective was to capture Somali warlords.
The mission, which ran from August to October 1993, took a disastrous turn when militant forces shot down two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters over Mogadishu on Oct. 3 during an attempt to capture targets linked to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
Super Six One was the first Black Hawk helicopter to be shot down. It was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing both pilots and severely injuring two other members of the crew.
Later, a second helicopter, Super Six Four, was also shot down by an RPG.
When additional Rangers and Delta Force operators arrived on the scene at the first crash site, they quickly found themselves in an intense firefight that left them trapped through the night.
At the second site, two Delta Force snipers who initially provided fire support from the air, requested permission to provide support on the ground. Both were killed in the fight, and the pilot was captured. The two snipers were later awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism.
The Battle of Mogadishu concluded the following day after U.S. forces were evacuated with assistance from an armored multinational convoy consisting of elements of the 10th Mountain Division, as well as Malaysian and Pakistani forces with the UN.
Altogether, 18 American soldiers were killed in the fight, which forced the Clinton administration to re-evaluate its approach to military action in Somalia. Two members of the multinational force were killed, and an estimated 800 to 1,000 enemy forces were killed.
The horrors of the fighting in Mogadishu and the heroic actions of those involved were captured in journalist Mark Bowden’s 1999 book Black Hawk Down and the 2001 film of the same name.
The Army said in its statement on the award upgrades that Operation Gothic Serpent “remains an especially significant point in the history of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Special Operations Command specifically.”
The service said that the upgraded awards will be presented later this year in ceremonies organized and held by the units in which the soldiers served.
The decision to upgrade the awards follows a decision made in October of last year by former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy to have the Senior Army Decorations Board take another look at awards for valor.
This article was written by Ryan Pickrell and originally published on the Insider.
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