Hello from the History Department.
This week, we’re spotlighting our History Pub at the Kennedy School on Monday, August 26. This is a different kind of event for us, because it has nothing to do with Pacific Northwest history. Instead, it focuses on a significant episode in American military history called the Battle of Mogadishu, today known as Black Hawk Down, on which the best-selling book and film of the same name were based.
This is an incredible opportunity to hear directly from first-person experiencers – in this case, Army Rangers Clay Othic and John Collett, both of whom were involved in the 1993 Mogadishu incident as part of the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment.
The veterans will speak about their backgrounds, their service in Mogadishu and their two-decade long journeys that culminated with a whiskey venture created to help other veterans.
On October 3, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the middle of Mogadishu, Somalia, as part of Operation Restore Hope, a U.S. initiative supporting a United Nations resolution that aimed to halt widespread starvation. The mission that October night was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. The operation was planned to take an hour. Instead, the soldiers found themselves fighting through the night against thousands of heavily armed Somalis.
From a January 2019 article in Smithsonian Magazine:
“The plan was to surround a white three-story house in the capital city of Mogadishu where leaders of Aidid’s Habar Gidir clan were gathering. Rangers would helicopter in, lower themselves on ropes and surround the building on all sides. A ground convoy of trucks and Humvees would wait outside the gate to carry away the troops and their prisoners. Altogether, the operation would involve 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles and around 160 troops.
The operation didn’t go as planned. The ground convoy ran up against barricades formed by local militias. One helicopter landed a block north of its target and couldn’t move closer because of groundfire. A ranger fell from his rope and had to be evacuated. Insurgents shot down two American Black Hawk helicopters (shown here, a month prior to the incident) with rocket-propelled grenades. When about 90 U.S. Rangers and Delta Force operators rushed to the rescue, they were caught in an intense exchange of gunfire and trapped overnight.
Altogether, the 18-hour urban firefight, later known as the Battle of Mogadishu, left 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis dead. News outlets broadcast searing images of jubilant mobs dragging the bodies of dead Army special operators and helicopter crewmen through the streets of Mogadishu. The newly elected U.S. president, Bill Clinton, halted the mission and ordered the Special Forces out by March 31, 1994.” Read the entire article here: https://bit.ly/2OQTvSJ
About the Speakers
Clay Othic and John Collett are co-owners of Three Rangers, a premium spirits company, and serve on the Board for Three Rangers Foundation, a non-profit committed to empowering veterans. Clay and his wife Mara live near Sheridan, OR, where he splits his time working on various entrepreneurial ventures and keeping active on their small farm. John, medically retired from the military, stays healthy through a regime of yoga and helping others in Chicago, IL.
As part of the event on August 26, our speakers will offer complimentary tastes of their Three Rangers Whiskey, with cocktails also available for purchase.