Black Hawk Down- Never before seen footage of America’s battle in Somalia

footage of the First Battle of Mogadishu (1993), during which two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs

Photo story:  Original footage of the First Battle of Mogadishu (3-4 October, 1993), during which two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs and three others were damaged (Left). Scene from the Oscar-winning war film ‘Black Hawk Down’ based on the true incident (Right)

A lot of people in America and the world know about what happened in America’s first battle against Al Qaeda 20 years ago. Thanks to the Oscar winning film ‘Black Hawk Down’ that depicted the incidents of the First Battle of Mogadishu occurred in between 3-4 October, 1993. Now the whole world can watch how the actual battle unfolded as American news magazine ‘60 minutes’ obtained the never before seen military footage of the war. The report by Lara Logan contains the classified images and war veterans’ eyewitness accounts of the war.

The military surveillance footage starts with the scenes captured on October 3, 1993 in Mogadishu. As the battle continues the Black Hawk helicopter with call sign ‘Super 61’ is shot down with rocket propelled grenade. The mission that day was going on smoothly to capture the lieutenants of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. But the Super 61 suddenly took the RPG, a lucky shot that eventually found its fast moving target. A special operations team leader, Norm Hooten, speaks publicly for the first time ever about the incident, ‘It took a direct hit to the tail boom and started a slow rotation’ he says. Hooten tells Logan that it was ‘a catastrophic impact’, reports.

Lara Logan’s full report is going to be aired on Sunday night on CBS which would contain following details:

Hooten and two other veterans who were present there on that day tell her about the horrifying experiences in the battle to retrieve the bodies of the dead and wounded of the crash.

It also presents the 7-month effort of David Snelson, a former Army intelligence officer, and his wife Alisha Ryu, who had been living in Mogadishu for the past three years, to retrieve and repatriate the wreckage of Super 61. When they heard that a new construction site might be affecting the wreckage site of ‘Super 61’ they went to site with a plan to save it. They said that they had driven down to Bakaara Market and inside a cactus field found what looked like to them ‘a helicopter blade’ sticking out of the field. They recovered many pieces of the aircraft as cautiously as possible as the area had been controlled by the Somalia’s al Qaida linked al Shabab militants. The couple even paid from their pockets the local cameraman hired by 60 minutes to follow the covert efforts. ‘Think about the men, what they went through. We didn’t do this for anybody else but them. I’ll get (the Super 61’s remains) home’ Snelson tells Logan.

The rotor blade, foot pedals and some other parts that they could recover are now preserved in the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hooten says ‘It’s coming back to where it belongs. And that matters. To anybody that was.. that was there that night.’

The First Battle of Mogadishu resulted in 18 deaths, 80 wounded and one pilot of the helicopters captured among the US and rescue forces.  Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s forces claimed 315 Somali deaths with 812 wounded, whereas the American sources estimates between 1,500 to 3,000 Somali casualties that also includes civilians. At the time, it was the bloodiest involving US troops since the Vietnam War and remained so until the second battle of Fallujah in Iraq in 2004.

Mohammad Rafi Saad

Mohammad Rafi Saad is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE