It's often said that history can be defined by who wrote it. October 3rd is the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. We remember it by the name 'Black Hawk Down.' The story written and even shown on the big screen. But as our Brian Dwyer reports, that history forgot a group of Fort Drum soldiers who risked their lives to save their brothers.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- A book and then a Hollywood blockbuster. The Battle of Mogadishu, or 'Black Hawk Down,' has become one of the most famous battles in recent times.
But what got lost in the way this battle has been remembered, is the role of 350 or so soldiers from Fort Drum's 2-14 Infantry. A role that led some of those solders to reunite back on Fort Drum Thursday, to commemorate the battle's 20th anniversary.
"Today is a day that I have looked forward to with anticipation because it's meeting back up with the brotherhood," James Cooper, who was a SPC with the 2-14 Alpha Co. said. "There's things that I went through that nobody can understand and only these guys can."
"In a historic context, there's an awful lot of Rangers that are alive today because of the actions of a bunch of young men who were given a mission and would not fail," Drew Meyerowich, a former Captain who commanded the 2-14 Alpha Co. said.
In 1993, as the U.S. embarked on a mission to get aid to some three million starving people in Somalia. The 10th Mountain took part in a mission, Operation Restore Hope, to protect cities and roads so supplies could get in. The 2-14 was part of the group, but had a bit of a different role.
"We were force that was uncommitted largely day-by-day, but on standby to respond to any contingency that may have have happened," Bill David, who was a Lieutenant Colonel leading the 2-14 then, added.
Cue October 3rd, 1993. A Somalia militia shoots down two U.S. black hawks. Task Force Ranger soldiers were surrounded. The 2-14 had to act fast. But the first attempt by Charlie Company, was not successful. The militia was ready. The company took casualties.
"It becomes what's called a baited ambush. The downed helicopter is the bait. We can set up ambush zones, kill zones around the bait. We know you're going to come in. Bad things are going to happen," David said.
So a second attempt was made by the Alpha Company. They were joined by a Malaysian company and some Pakistani tanks. But language barriers led part of the convoy the wrong way. They later became known as the Lost Platoon. More bad things happened.
"We turned somewhere back towards the second crash site, got ambushed and we fought the rest of the night trying to get back to the main convoy," said Mark Hollis, who was a 2nd Lieutenant, leading the 2-14 Alpha Company's 2nd Platoon.
But through it all, including two deaths and many more casualties, the 2-14 did it. Task Force Rangers and Delta soldiers rescued. No one and nothing left behind. Except, maybe, it's place in history.
"I don't care about the national spotlight because you know what," Meyerowich added. "I have to look in their eyes and they have to look in mine. We have a great team. Look at how many guys got to come back. I wish we could have had more, but it's only 20 years. We'll be back. We're not going anywhere."
Earlier Thursday, the Somalia veterans took part in a ceremonial run called the Mogadishu Mile. Twenty years ago, that was the route taken by solders from the crash site to a safe zone. They ran that without support and little to no ammunition.