USSOCOM marks 20th anniversary of the ‘Mogadishu Mile’ 

 
Command Sgt. Major Chris Faris, Senior Enlisted Advisor to
U.S. Special Operations Command, speaks during the Mogadishu
Mile Run Ceremony, MacDill AFB, Fla., on Oct. 4. As a member
of Task Force Ranger, CSM Farris recalled moments 20 years
ago during the battle of Mogadishu in Somalia. Photo by Tech. Sgt.
Angelita M. Lawrence.
Sixty-eight members of the U.S. Special Operations Command participated in a Mogadishu Mile event on MacDill AFB Oct. 4 in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the events in Mogadishu, Somalia that inspired the book and movie Black Hawk Down.

The battle of Mogadishu resulted in the downing of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters that were part of the mission to capture the lieutenants of warlord Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid. Task Force Ranger was sent to secure the crash sites and ended up engaged in a firefight lasting through the night of Oct. 3 into the morning hours of Oct. 4.

Finally, the task force was reinforced at the crash sites by armored vehicles and extracted, but due to space limitations in the convoy, a group of operators were unable to be transported in the vehicles, and were forced to move on foot, fighting their way back to the rally point at the Mogadishu soccer stadium.  This event is known today as the “Mogadishu Mile.”

Today, members of the SOF community gathered at the Special Operations Forces memorial to honor the memories of Task Force Ranger in the battle of Mogadishu, in which 16 Special Operators and two additional U.S. service members on the convoy made the ultimate sacrifice, with an additional 80 wounded, and 1 aviator captured. It is estimated that Task Force Ranger inflicted 1,500 casualties on the enemy during this one engagement.
 
U.S. Service members assigned to U.S. Special Operations
Command, shoot live fire at the shooting ranger during the
Mogadishu Mile Run Oct. 4 on MacDill AFB, Fla. The Mogadishu
Mile Run was held in memory of the 20th year anniversary of
the men who lost their lives during the 1993 battle of Mogadishu
in Somalia. Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Larry Carpenter.

At the event to commemorate the 20th anniversary, 34 teams of two, or “Ranger Buddies”, gathered in the early morning hours for friendly competition.  Teams first accomplished 18 push-ups before sprinting 200 meters to the firing range where they were required to engage four different targets, with each team member taking two shots at each. Participants then completed a 5K run to the SOF Memorial outside the SOCOM headquarters.

“The purpose of the event was to get members of SOCOM to come together and pay tribute and remember those that were lost during the first Battle of Mogadishu, 3 to 4 October 1993,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Zirbel, Military Information Support Operations, Operations Non-Commissioned Officer and co-event organizer.” We wanted to challenge the participants with a good physical event, and then reflect on sacrifices made by our brothers-in-arms.”

The event was highlighted with some remarks from SOCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris, a Special Operator who participated in the battle 20 years ago.

“As a veteran of this conflict, seeing everybody here, thank you so much for honoring our fallen, because that’s what this was all about,” said Faris.

Faris stated that Oct. 3 is always a hard day for him -- a day that he remembers in honor of all the men that paid the last full measure a service member can.

“Thank you all for doing this, I’m very humbled, I’m very moved,” Faris said. “Last night we [Faris with his wife Lisa] walked up here to the SOF Memorial, where I had a chance to talk to all my friends up here on the wall. Everybody that fought, and gave that last full measure to the man on their left and their right, thank you for remembering them and never letting them ever, ever be forgotten.”

Having a veteran from Task Force Ranger on hand added a significant impact on this special event.

“Having such a highly respected leader such as CSM Faris volunteer his time to come speak at the Memorial, meant the world to those not only involved in the planning, but the participants as well,” said Zirbel. “His powerful words reinforced the intent of the event, which was to honor the fallen and never forget that we fight for the man or woman to our left and our right.”

The ceremony concluded with the reading of the names of the fallen in the Battle of Mogadishu:

Master Sgt. Gary Gordon – Medal of Honor recipient

Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart – Medal of Honor recipient

Staff Sgt. Daniel Busch

Sgt. 1st Class Earl Fillmore

Sgt. 1st Class Matt Rierson*

Master Sgt. Tim Martin

Corporal Jamie Smith

Specialist James Cavaco

Sgt. Casey Joyce

Private 1st Class Richard Kowalewski

Sgt. Dominick Pilla

Sgt. Lorenzo Ruiz

Staff Sgt. William Cleveland

Staff Sgt. Thomas Field

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Raymond Frank

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clifton “Elvis” Wolcott

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donovan “Bull” Briley

Sgt. Cornell Houston

Pfc. James Martin Jr.

 

*Killed in a mortar attack two days after the battle

 
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7701 Tampa Point Boulevard
MacDill Air Force Base, Florida 33621

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