Grim anniversaries for the Battle of Mogadishu and Battle for COP Keating

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Grim anniversaries for the Battle of Mogadishu and Battle for COP Keating

I still remember where I was for both of these Alamo-type battles by the US Army.   During Mog I was at basic training at Fort Benning, GA where the Infantry One Station Unit Training was, and for the latter I was at work when I started getting emails about it forwarded to me from people who knew others in the battle.

This post won’t have much about either battle, because the videos tell the story.  I still remember a post-wide run for the Rangers and D-Boys (Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon would receive the Medal of Honor) that were lost that day, and years later I would hear Blackhawk pilot Michael Durant speak about the battle. 

As for Keating, read Jake Tapper’s The Outpost to get the big picture, and then read Clint Romesha’s (Medal of Honor recipient) account in Red Platoon and you’ll get an idea of how that battle went down.  

In both battles US forces were outnumbered in the extreme, and yet they persisted in getting themselves out, losing 8 at Keating and 19 at Mogadishu.   Each battle would garner two Medals of Honor (joining Shughart, Gordon and Romesha was Ty Carter).   73 men were wounded in Mogadishu, and 27 were wounded at Keating.

As wiki notes: 

27 Soldiers were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. 37 Soldiers were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device for valor. 3 Soldiers were awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and 18 others the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for valor. 9 Soldiers were awarded the Silver Star for valor.

The flight crews of three United States Army AH-64D Apaches were later decorated for actions during the battle. Captain Matthew Kaplan, CW3 Ross Lewallen, CW3 Randy Huff, CW2 Gary Wingert, CW2 Chad Bardwell, and CW2 Chris Wright were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for conducting close combat attacks on the Taliban during the battle.

I’m lucky to have known a few of the men from Keating.

The Battle for Mogadishu, 3 & 4 October, 1993, from Frontline:

Battle for COP Keating (Battle of Kamdesh), 3 October 2009, from a reconstruction by the US Army:

KIA, Operation Gothic Serpent, Mogadishu:

MSG Gary Gordon, SFC Randy Shughart, SSG Daniel Busch, SFC Earl Robert Fillmore, Jr., MSG Tim Griz Martin, SFC Matthew Loren Rierson, CPL James Smith, SPC James Cavaco, SGT James Joyce, CPL Richard Kowalewski, Jr., SGT Dominick Pilla, SGT Lorenzo Ruiz, SSG William David Cleveland, Jr., SSG Thomas Field, CW4 Raymond Alex Frank, CW3 Clifton P. Wolcott, CW3 Donovan Lee Briley, SGT Cornell Houston, Sr., and PFC James Henry Martin, Jr.

KIA, Battle of COP Keating/Kamdesh:

Justin T. Gallegos (Tucson, Arizona), Christopher Griffin (Kincheloe, Michigan), Kevin C. Thomson (Reno, Nevada), Michael P. Scusa (Villas, New Jersey), Vernon W. Martin (Savannah, Georgia), Stephan L. Mace (Lovettsville, Virginia), Joshua J. Kirk (South Portland, Maine), and Joshua M. Hardt (Applegate, California).


Worth reading as well is Jonn Lilyea discussing his friend Tim Griz Martin (pictured above), killed in Gothic Serpent:

[24] years ago today I lost a dear friend. Tim Martin and I showed up at the Reception Station in Fort Polk Louisiana – I won’t mention the year, the fact that they were still doing Basic and Infantry AIT at Ft Polk should be enough to narrow it down for you. He was a huge, quiet and friendly guy and I felt lucky that we were attached alphabetically through those 16 weeks. I can’t count the times that I’d stumbled and looked up to see his outstretched hand to help me up.

After those 16 weeks, then four weeks together at the Basic Airborne Course in Georgia then he went to the 2d Ranger Battalion at Lewis and I went to Fort Stewart (yes, the 1st Battalion was actually on Fort Stewart in those days). We went off in our separate directions for four years and then ended up in the same SFQC class at Fort Bragg – alphabetically attached once again. After that six months, we rarely saw each other, but each time we met, the conversation picked up right where it had left off the last time.

I’ve never met anyone who ever met him that had a bad word for him. He loved the Army, and later I learned he loved his family more.

I discovered his final fate on October 18th, 1993 while I was leaving my last duty station as a retired soldier when I read the casualty list from what is now known as the “Blackhawk Down” fiasco and found his name.

Rest in Peace brothers.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.