After watching the Frontline program and reviewing the entire material posted here,
I find it truly amazing that any one of you even made it out alive. I find it
absolutely unforgivable that the politicians would hold back weapons and armor when
it was specifically asked for by Montgomery and endorsed by Colin Powell. I
remember after Clinton decided to pull the military out in early October 1993 that
a number of the networks interviewed politicians and other Americans about their
thoughts regarding this decision by Clinton. I remember Ted Koppel interviewed
Henry Kissinger on Nightline and asked Kissinger what his thoughts were on the
decision to pull the military out. His reaction was one of resolve and anger when
he stated that prior to pulling out we should send Aidid, Somalia, and the world, a
message that America will not tolerate what happened our men; and that we should
strike back at Aidid and the Somalis with such swiftness and severity that they
would never even think about siding against an American again -- especially when we were merely
trying to help them. I was wondering, did any of you have feelings similar to
those of Kissinger's prior to your being pulled out of Somalia?
-- Doug Matton
JASON MOORE: Doug,
I know every one of us wanted to go back out there with guns blazing with the
intention of killing everything that moved. I even talked about going out alone
with a few friends. Looking back on it I'm glad we didn't. I have enough
nightmares to live with now; I don't need anymore. I do think a stronger message
could have been sent by bombing the city, but after killing 1,000 people how many
more would make it any better? Just understand I was not this rational after it
happened. I wanted to take the life of every person possible to try and make up
for the loss of my fallen comrades.
To All of you: very simply, thank you for your great service and sacrifice to the
Army and the country. I'm proud and humbled to serve in the same army as soldiers
like you guys. The only question I had was why didn't the first relief column from
TF Ranger continue to the first downed UH-60 and extract you guys before moving
towards the second bird? That never made sense to me.
-- Jim DeNardo, Cpt. U.S. Army
JASON MOORE: Jim, the first bird had been reached by another ground element that was
closer; we were just going to reinforce them. When the second bird went down the
convoy was the only way left to reach it, so they diverted us.
The man who was dragged through the streets...had he already died by the time the
mob got to him? Where did he come from? A downed helicopter or a ground vehicle?
Was his body ever recovered?
-- Sue Thomas
KENI THOMAS: He was a crew chief on the second Blackhawk that was shot down. The one
piloted by the captured Michael Durant. Two Delta Force operators roped down
to the crash site to help with any survivors and fight back the crowds racing
towards the crash. Both men knew well the odds of making it out alive. Both
men fought to their death when they ran out of ammunition. Only Durant
survived from that crash site. The two men were both awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroics.
The soldier whose body we all saw on TV was recovered within days. We did not
leave country until all the bodies from that crash site were recovered.
JASON MOORE: Sue, he was already dead when the pictures were taken. He was from one of the
downed helicopters. Every single American body as well as the one prisoner of
war was recovered. I can only speak for myself but I would still be over in
Somalia if this was not the case. The Ranger creed that is recited every morning
in the battalions says "I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the
hands of the enemy." I am sorry we could not get to them before the enemy (it
still bothers me today to know that their families had to see that). Under no
circumstances would they have been left there.
question to all of you is this: In light of what we now know about this president,
in re the Lewinsky Scandal, do you feel he continues to possess the moral authority
necessary to remain as Commander-in-Chief?
-- Allan Musser
JASON MOORE: I have never believed that the president had the moral authority to be the commander-in-chief. He was never in the military. He has lied to the American public from
day One. I am just more sure of this as time goes by. He could never have been
tolerated as a Ranger, so he doesn't belong as the commander-in-chief.
Do you (all) feel that it should be a requirement for the office of president of the
United States that he should have served at least 3 years active duty in one of the
branches of the military?
-- Jack Sofield
JASON MOORE: I think it would be a great idea. Some of the men I served with were of the
highest moral character with respect for human life who would have made a great
president, but America is a free country, soldiers fight to keep it that way so we
cannot dictate serving in the armed forces. I would just hope we could ask for
better than we have right now. Our military and the American people deserve
KENI THOMAS: I still believe the people should elect whomever they want to be their
president regardless of background, race, religion etc. If he or she had
previously served in the military, then, in my opinion, they would be better
equipped to handle the job. But, no, I do not feel it should be a requirement.
Do you still feel that you would do it again if called?
-- Jim Savage
KENI THOMAS: I would go in a heartbeat as would you if you were called. Regardless of the
flawed policies, there is within us a sense of duty which does not ask "why?" or
Would I want it to happen again? No, because the cost was too great. But I am
here if they call. Here am I. Lord send me.
I was very moved by your accounts of the events at Mogadishu. Not ever having combat
experience myself, I cannot even begin to imagine the indelible imprint those 17
hours have had on your lives. I would like to know whether you felt your training
as Army Rangers was appropriate for this mission. Specifically, I was wondering
whether overconfidence (from knowing you had received the best training the Army
has to offer) could have perhaps allowed you to underestimate the danger involved,
at least initially?
-- Ralph Lin
JASON MOORE: Ralph, I don't think anything could have prepared us for what happend on the 3rd.
Prior to the third we had done 6 other missions in Somalia; all went very well.
No one was injured. We did start to become confident. Maybe we should not have
gone out in daylight, but we had a mission to do. I don't think our confidence
level had anything to to with what occurred on the 3rd. It may have affected the
decision to launch the attack, but once we were on the ground it just didn't
KENI THOMAS: In the beginning we were larger than life. Serious men from with a mission.
We were the finest fighting unit in the world and we would accomplish our
mission, no questions asked. After the first firefight during the third
mission we had some close calls and minor wounds. But nothing major compared
to the casualties taken by the enemy. I think it added to our invincibility.
But going into battle with the belief that no one in Mogadishu was going to
stop us is not necessarily a bad thing. You need that confidence and absolute
faith in your unit. However, I want to make it clear that not one of us ever
underestimated the enemies' ability to kill, not for a second. We were too
well trained, too well prepared and smart enough to know better. There is
nothing to be taken lightly about an AK47 or RPG being pointed at you, no
matter who's pulling the trigger.
First, I want to thank you all for your service to this country and for your bravery
in action. America is proud of you.
Second, I want to know if Jim Lechner made it. He was a senior at The Citadel when
I was a freshman there. We were both in the same cadet company, and he was my
platoon leader that year. Several of my friends from our company had heard that he
was wounded, but never knew the full story.
Finally, I have a brother who was 82nd at the time at Bragg. I asked him about the
firefight, and he seemed to hold Les Aspin accountable more than President Clinton.
How do you feel about the situation?
-- David Ramsey
ANTON BERENDSEN: I don't know the full scoop on
Lt. Lechner. I do know that he was severely wounded in the leg. He was at
Walter Reed for a long period of time. He was wearing a metal "halo" with
pins inside to stabalize his leg. I believe he was in Rochester, since I am
from there also. I remember hearing his name mentioned on the radio. I wish
I could give you more info. I bet Keni could elaborate more on his condition.
Thanks once again for your support and good luck in your career.
JASON MOORE: Dave, Lt. Lechner made it back. From what I remember his legs were injured
pretty badly. As far as who to hold accountable I think there is blame enough to
go around. Starting with the person who sent us on a daylight raid, to President
Clinton not informing us of the diplomatic situation and Les Aspin for not
approving tanks and aircraft to help support us. The list could go on and on. I
just hope our leaders as well as the military uses what happened as a learning
expierence. It may save lives in future conflicts.
...I was particularly
disturbed by the actions of the Italian troops. Were any of you aware of the
agreement that the Italians made with Aidid? Were the U.N. Commanders aware of
this? After it was discovered, did the U.N. reprimand any of the Italian Commanders
for their actions?
-- Mark Lyman, US Army Ranger 1984-1987
JASON MOORE: We knew something of what the Italians were doing, but from what I
understand we couldn't prove anything. So, yes, we were aware, but politics
prevented any action (sound familiar?). As far as I know the Italians were never
held accountable. It's good to hear from former Rangers; it's nice to know you never
forget what being a Ranger is like.
...My question for the four of you is, did the events of October 3rd effect your
dicision to reenlist? Right now the military is desperately trying to raise
enlistment and increase retention, my feeling is that for the soldiers of Operation
Restore Hope reenlistment is a very hard choice to make. As the US Continues to
send soldiers into "peace keeping missions" in Bosnia and elsewhere I feel that we
are poorly utilizing our greatest resource, our soldiers. I am interested in your
opinion on these matters.
-- John Pennington
JASON MOORE: It seems to me America has taken the role of the world's police force seriously.
That means putting our soldiers in harm's way. We had trained for this mission,
but you are never as prepared as you would like to be when the shit hits the fan.
You always want more ammo, more support, more training. As far as reenlisting I
made a deal with my wife. We had trained to go to Haiti, when my wife found out
she told me she could not handle going through that again. I told her that I
could not let my fellow Rangers down but if I returned from Haiti I would get
out. We never landed in Haiti, so when I got back I kept my side of the bargain
and got out. So, yes, it did affect my decision. Not a single day goes by that I
don't miss it.