Army upgrades awards for ‘Blackhawk Down’ special operators

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The U.S. Army is upgrading the combat awards for 60 veterans who served in Operation Gothic Serpent in 1993, a battle in Somalia more commonly known as “Blackhawk Down” for its pop culture portrayals. 

Fifty-eight of the service members who fought in the battle will see their awards upgraded to Silver Stars while the other two will be upgraded to Distinguished Flying Crosses, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. 

“On the afternoon of Oct. 3, [1993] armed militants shot down two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, after which U.S. ground forces converged on the two downed aircraft to recover the personnel,” an Army press release read. “The ensuing intense firefight resulted in the loss of 18 American Soldiers and remains an especially significant point in the history of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Special Operations Command specifically.”

The upgrades happened after former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy directed the board in charge of such awards to revisit awards that had already been issued. 

A Blackhawk helicopter UH-60. Somali militiamen shot down multiple Blackhawk helicopters during Operation Gothic Serpent in 1993. 
(iStock)

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The Distinguished Flying Cross is given to soldiers who demonstrate “heroism or extraordinary achievement” in flight while the Silver Star is the third-highest medal awarded for military combat, issued specifically “in recognition of a valorous act performed during combat operations while under fire from enemy forces.”

Eighteen Americans were killed in the operation and dozens were wounded. 

The battle was considered a loss for the U.S. military, which came shortly after the end of the Cold War and the United States’ success in the first Iraq War.

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 The Army said the operation “remains an especially significant point in the history of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Special Operations Command specifically.”


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