The Black Hawk helicopter flew down the street with mini-guns blazing

Rangers fast-rope to the ground from a Black Hawk helicopter hovering above the town of Mogadishu, Somalia during the “Black Hawk Down” fiasco. Courtesy photo

The Black Hawk helicopter’s twin 7.62 millimeter mini-gatling guns blazed away at the insurgents shooting down on the American Rangers from roof tops in the downtown Bakaara Market area of Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. As the chopper flared out in the middle of the main drag it cleared the roof tops of enemy fighters in a single sweep of its machine guns.

On the street below Pvt. Marc Good, an Airborne Ranger medic who graduated from Venice High School in 1988, was part of the Third Ranger Battalion. He was struggling to keep Pfc. Todd Blackburn alive. The Ranger was severely injured when he fast roped from his helicopter to the ground.

“Thank God for the close ground support of the Black Hawk,” Good recalled sitting at his dining room table telling his story almost 20 years later. “We probably went another 10 steps carrying Todd down the street on a stretcher when these Humvees came flying by us and finally stopped.

“A cargo Humvee pulled up beside us. That’s when we loaded all the wounded aboard and headed back to base. It was right about this time we saw a Black Hawk crash a few streets away. That’s when our mission changed to a crew rescue mission.

“On the return trip to base I was sitting out in the open beside Todd’s litter holding his IV bottle. I requested a rifleman ride with us on the top of the Humvee to give us some security.

“Todd had a best friend he went through basic and Ranger School with. Lo and behold, the guy that got on top of the Humvee with us to provide security was his best friend.

“He didn’t recognize Todd at first. When I told him who it was he started freaking out. And this guy was tough as nails.

“The return trip to base is kinda blurry after all these years. I remember we kept stopping with our Humvee because they keep shooting at us on the way back.

“One Somalian clan member came running out from behind a building with this rifle on his hip. He shot at the Humvee in front of us. One of the Somalian insurgents’ bullets hit one of our guys in the head in the truck in front of us. The Ranger was killed instantly, but the guy beside him didn’t even know he had been hit.

This is a Black Hawk view of Mogadishu, Somalia from Pvt. Marc Good’s vantage-point of a Ranger who was flying in to attack a war lord during the “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993. Photo provided by Marc Good

“By the time we passed by the insurgent there were three of us shooting at him. It was just like in the movies, he clutched his weapon and went down in slow motion. He was looking straight at me and I could see the life going out of him.

“Those people in Somalia were horrible people. They would send their kids out to get run over and stop our convoy.

“We eventually reached our base and Todd was still alive. However, he had all kinds of fractures and internal damage.

“I walked over to our nearby field hospital and told them they were about to get all kinds of casualties coming in from the firefight we were in in Mogadishu. I also told them I was a medic and volunteered my services. They brushed me off.

“At the time I didn’t realized how serious the fight was or that we had another Black Hawk helicopter shot down. About that time another medic walked by and told me they were looking for every last medical person they could get to accompany a second convoy into Mogadishu to rescue those aboard the two downed helicopters.

“I grabbed my stuff and ran down to where they were forming up the new convoy. I found the convoy commander and told him I wanted to go, but he kept telling me: ‘No, no, no’ until I told him I was a medic. Then he told me, ‘That’s a good idea,’ my going.

“I got all my medical supplies for the second trip and jumped back in the Humvee. The bottom of the truck was filled with sandbags to protect us from insurgent land mines.

“At this point I told the guy sitting next to me, ‘I don’t think we need to worry about land minds. We need to worry about protection from rifle fire.’

“Without any permission from higher up, we started throwing sandbags out the back of the Humvee onto the road. Sure enough, right after that we started taking insurgent fire from all directions.

“We went out into Mogadishu poking around but never reached either Black Hawk crash site.”

A second task force from the U.S. 10th Mountain Division reached one of the downed Black Hawks and rescued the survivors. Survivors from the second chopper were overrun by Somalian insurgents during the night despite the best efforts of two Delta Force snipers, Gary Gordon and Randy Shugart, who volunterly roped in to protect the downed chopper crew. They died trying to hold off the enemy onslaught. Both received the Medal of Honor posthumously for their efforts.

Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant gives thumbs up to the photographer while being sheltered from the rain by two nurses who accompanied him on the C-141 to Ramstein Air Force base in Germany,. Photo courtesy Mike Durant/

The only survivor of the second Black Hawk crash was Mike Durant, who had been captured, but was released by insurgents later.

“When I returned to the airport from my second trip into Mogadishu all of my ‘Chalk-Four’ squad was back,” Good recalled. “By that time one of the guys in our ‘Chalk’ died. I helped carry him out of the Humvee.

“I think of the 12 guys in our ‘Chalk’ one guy was killed and six or seven were wounded.

“When I got back the second time I started gathering some more medical supplies thinking I was going to make a third trip into town. However, my company commander ordered me to stand down.

“At the conclusion of the fire fight we had 70 wounded and six Rangers were killed in the fight, along with six members of Delta Force and another six members of the support troops–18 dead all told.

“The next day things started getting real political. After it was disclosed that two of our Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down they sent us helicopter gun ships and tanks. They also brought in a whole new Ranger company and we went home.”

“Ironically, Mohamed Aidid, the war lord we were trying to get, was assassinated three years later on the same day Gen. William Garrison, our task force commander, retired from the Army. Our government tried to make it sound like we accomplished our mission, but Somalia is still messed up and lacks a central government.”

Good came home from war, got out of the Rangers and went into business with another former Ranger. They developed a company that makes high quality marble-like counter tops and tables. They were successful and eventually were bought out by their competition.

He had married his high school sweetheart, Debbra, when he first joined the Rangers. They have a grown son, Frantz, who lives in the Venice area.

*In case you missed it, click here for part one.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fl.a on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 and is republished with permission.

  Click here to view Good’s collection  in the Library of Congress.

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