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On October 3, 1993, U.S. Special Operations Forces from Task Force Ranger operating in Mogadishu, Somalia launched a daytime mission into the Bakaara Market to capture high-priority targets loyal to war criminal Mohammed Farrah Aidid. The raid, meant to last no longer than one hour, quickly shifted when armed Somalia militia, armed with assault weapons and RPG’s, managed to shoot down multiple UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. As the numbers of armed Somalis quickly increased into the tens of thousands, U.S. Rangers and Special Operators, heroically attempting to defend both crash sites, quickly found themselves pinned down and surrounded in a 19-hour standoff that lasted throughout the night. Using AH-6 Little Bird helicopters and additional ground forces, many of whom went back into the city multiple times, U.S. forces repelled repeated attempts by the Somalis to overrun American positions until the morning when armored vehicles extracted the last American forces in the city. Ultimately, 18 U.S. soldiers were lost in the most intense combat firefight since the Vietnam War.
In 2000, the Academy Award winning film, Black Hawk Down, told the story of the U.S. Special Operations Forces who were sent to Mogadishu, Somalia and tasked with the fateful mission of capturing war criminal Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Now, 20 years later, Jeff Struecker, a former Army Ranger from the battle and a key character in the film, returns to what is still considered the most dangerous place in the world, the lawless streets of Mogadishu, to relive the battle. In this audacious attempt to retrace the exact route the rescue convoy took during the firefight, filmmakers reveal Jeff’s story first hand while driving through the narrow city streets as they identify key landmarks from the film and come within blocks of the original target building. With some of the first footage shot from inside the notorious “Bakaara Market” where the battle took place, Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down uncovers the fear, courage, and faith experienced by the special operators during the battle in a way never before experienced as Jeff wrestles with the aftermath of a place that reshaped his own perspectives on life and death.
A decorated member of the U.S. Army's most elite fighting corps, Jeff Struecker was prominently featured in the national best seller "Black Hawk Down,” later made into a major motion picture. He served for ten years in the 75th Ranger Regiment in positions from Private to Platoon Sergeant. While serving in this unit Jeff competed in and won the David L. Grange Best Ranger Competition in 1996. His combat experience includes participation in the invasion of Panama, Operation Desert Storm, Black Hawk Down in Somalia, and more than a dozen combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jeff is an award-winning author with five books in print. He and his wife Dawn, “the most patriotic American he knows,” have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia. Follow Jeff on Facebook and Twitter.
An American country music singer and former United States Army Ranger, Keni was a member of Task Force Ranger as a part of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and he served in the Battle of Mogadishu. Thomas works as a motivational speaker drawing from this experience as a US Army Ranger. As a country singer, Keni has recorded several independently-released albums and two singles, from the album Flags of Our Fathers:A Soldier’s Story charted on the Billboard country music charts. Follow Keni on Facebook and Twitter.