Jeffrey Dean Struecker is a husband, father of five children, author of five books and a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. He’s also a former Army Ranger and one of the men who survived the Battle of Mogadishu.
Struecker enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1987 at the age of 18. He served in the 75th Ranger Regiment for 10 years as a Ranger reconnaissance specialist and then as a platoon sergeant. By the age of 24, he was a sergeant and squad leader of Task Force Ranger. Sgt. Struecker arrived in Mogadishu on Aug. 3, 1993, as part of an elite group of soldiers comprised of Rangers, Delta Force, and Night Stalkers. Code-named Gothic Serpent, the Oct. 3 mission was designed to help restore peace by cracking down on the area’s warlords and capture notorious warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Although expected to only last a few hours, the mission took a deadly turn during insertion that resulted in gunfire and wounded American personnel. Struecker led a three-vehicle convoy through heavy fire to return to base with the wounded. According to Struecker, “Daylight was a huge problem. We were trained to work at night.”
Because of the movie Blackhawk Down, the Battle of Mogadishu has become part of popular culture. The internet is full of message boards and articles written about that day. When asked his response to the criticism that a lack of experience contributed to the mission going sideways, he laughed and said, “We were lethal. We were the most lethal and experienced force in the world. No one could have done it any better.” He states, “It’s not logical that we made it out alive,” when reflecting on the battle.
Struecker is a devoted Christian and always believed his mission on Earth was to kick in doors and kill the bad guys. Following his experience in Mogadishu, he completed his undergraduate degree at Troy University in Alabama and went to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduation, he was commissioned as a chaplain with the Regimental Special Troops Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He retired from active military service in January 2011.
We honor your service, Sgt. Struecker!
Graphic by Emma Catlett. Emma is a sophomore at Baylor University and is studying Political Science with a French minor and Pre-Law concentration.