58 Silver Stars To Be Awarded for 1993 Battle of Mogadishu

July 1, 2021Matt White
Silver Stars Mogadishu

Sixty members of Task Force Ranger, which included troops from the 75th Ranger Regiment and MH-6 Little Birds of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, are receiving upgrades to awards earned in an infamous overnight battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. Photos courtesy of Brad Thomas. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

Sixty special operations soldiers will have combat awards upgraded for their actions in 1993’s Operation Gothic Serpent, the battle chronicled in the book and movie Black Hawk Down.

Fifty-eight soldiers from the fight will receive Silver Stars and two will receive Distinguished Flying Crosses. The Silver Star is the third-highest award for valor bestowed by the US military, nearly always for direct combat. The Distinguished Flying Cross is the highest award given specifically for flight duty.

The battle erupted as part of Operation Gothic Serpent, a campaign in Mogadishu, Somalia, led by Army Special Operations Forces from August to October 1993. The fight involved units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Army’s Special Operations Command, and the 10th Mountain Division. On Oct. 3, armed militants under Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid shot down two of the 160th’s MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as they flew assault teams to arrest two of Aidid’s lieutenants. Heavily armed militia members numbered in the hundreds swarmed the crash sites, leading to an 18-hour fight between the soldiers stuck on the ground, the forces sent to retrieve them, and the local militias. In the end, 18 Americans were killed and a 160th pilot was held prisoner for 11 days.

mike durant gothic serpent coffee or die
Mike Durant after he was secured and returned to US forces. Photo courtesy of Brad Thomas.

The upgraded medals will add to an award tally from the battle that is already among one of the most decorated days in US military history and one of the defining missions of US special operations. The 18-hour running firefight produced dozens of awards for valor, including several higher than the Silver Star. Army snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon were awarded the Medal of Honor for attempting to rescue the crew of one of the downed helicopters, including pilot Michael Durant. Both died in the attempt, and Durant was taken prisoner. Timothy Wilkinson, an Air Force Pararescueman, was awarded the Air Force Cross for braving direct fire to rush medical supplies to injured Rangers.

According to, Silver Stars were awarded to 34 combatants from the Army, Navy, and Air Force after the battle, seven posthumously. Two pilots with the 160th were also awarded posthumous Distinguished Flying Crosses, as was Durant.

All 18 soldiers killed in the battle received valor awards posthumously, with about half receiving Silver Stars and others receiving Bronze Stars or below. Coffee or Die Magazine asked officials with the Army if any of the upgrades would apply to posthumous awards but officials said no specific information was being released on any of the awards. Names of the recipients are not being released.

According to an Army release, the upgraded awards will be presented later this year in separate commemoration ceremonies hosted by the units in which each soldier served at the time of the mission.

Read Next: What Really Happened Before and After the Battle of Mogadishu

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Dear Jack: I'm Retiring From The Military — Help!

In this installment of “Dear Jack,” Marine veteran Jack Mandaville helps a career service member figure out life after retirement.

March 31, 2023Jack Mandaville
navy chaplains suicide prevention
US Navy Deploys More Chaplains For Suicide Prevention

Growing mental health distress in the ranks carries such grave implications that the U.S. chief of n...

March 31, 2023Associated Press
ukraine lessons learned
Opinion & Essay
Nolan Peterson: Lessons From Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

After living in and reporting from Ukraine the last nine years, conflict journalist Nolan Peterson h...

March 30, 2023Nolan Peterson
black hawk crash kentucky
9 Killed In Army Black Hawk Helicopter Crash In Kentucky

Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said Thursday morning that the deaths happened the previous night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission.

March 30, 2023Associated Press
richard stayskal act military medical malpractice
DOD Denies Most Stayskal Act Malpractice Claims

Master Sgt. Richard Stayskal was diagnosed with lung cancer long after military doctors missed a tum...

March 29, 2023Maggie BenZvi
ukrainian wounded soldiers
‘On Tour In Hell’: Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers Evacuated

With bandaged heads and splinted limbs, the wounded soldiers are stretchered into the waiting medica...

March 27, 2023Associated Press
US oil mission
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved