Black Hawk Down: Michael Durant



Army Veteran and pilot Michael Durant survived the Battle of Mogadishu.

Army Veteran Michael Durant, a Veteran of the Gulf War, was shot down and taken prisoner during the Battle of Mogadishu in southern Somalia in 1993.

Michael Durant became interested in flying when his father’s friend took him on a ferry flight in a helicopter. Durant later enlisted in the Army in 1979. After completing basic training, he was assigned to the Defense Language Institute to learn Spanish. He was then assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group based in Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator. Durant also attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Ala., flying TH-55 and UH-1 helicopters. Upon his graduation in 1983, he was appointed as chief warrant officer and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, South Korea.

Durant flew over 150 medical evacuation missions while in South Korea before transferring to the 101st Aviation Battalion at Fort Campbell, Ky., in June 1984. Four years later, he joined the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell.

In August 1988, Durant deployed to Iran for Operation Prime Chance to protect U.S. oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. And he participated in the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in January 1991.

The Battle of Mogadishu

It was in 1993 that Durant’s life would change. He deployed to Somalia as part of the special forces operations in Somalia. During the Battle of Mogadishu, Durant piloted an MH-60 Blackhawk when it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Despite the helicopter’s crash, Durant survived and defended himself with an MP5 submachine gun with the help of Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon. After Shughart and Gordon were killed, Durant was taken prisoner by enemy forces. He was held in captivity for 11 days. Durant’s experiences in Somalia were later portrayed in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down.

After being released from captivity, Durant recuperated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, but quickly returned to flight status and continued flying missions for the 160th Aviation Regiment. Durant logged more than 3,700 flight hours before his retirement in 2001. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, including one with Valor device; the POW Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Durant is the owner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering services company based in Huntsville, Ala., which specializes in aviation training and the development of sophisticated training devices such as aircraft simulators.

Thank you for your service!


Writers: Slavic Yezersky and Sarah Concepcion

Editor: Vincent Tran

Graphics: Rey Leal

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Charles A. Glover    

    CT3 (E-4) US Navy Veteran
    Thank you for your heroic service Chief Warrant Officer Durant during the battle of Mogadishu, as well as your Spanish Intercept experience in Panama, after graduating from the Department of Defense language Institute. I’m a Navy veteran who served Spanish Linguist in Guantanamo during the Missile crisis from 11/1/62 thru 2/14/64, after graduating from what was then the Army Language School. Just as your experience in Somalia served you well ever since, my experience in Cuba at the epicenter of what might have been an Apocalypse, was life changing as well; giving each of us an understanding and appreciation of Life and of living each day to the fullest, Wishing you well now and in all future endeavors. Chuck Glover

  2. Jeff Wishner    

    Bio says Durant was deployed to Iran in 1988 for Operation Prime Chance. Prime Chance was to protect Ship from Iranian attack. Pretty sure he wouldn’t have been deployed to Iran.

  3. Patrick Schreiber    

    I was Mike’s roommate and friend at the 470th MI Group in Panama. I salute you Mr. Durant for what you have accomplished in your life and for what you have done for your country.
    Patrick Schreiber (the old man you roomed with).

  4. Valtron West    

    I was in Ft. Jackson, SC for basic fraining, and in Ft. Lee Virginia for Advanced Individual Training (AIT)

  5. Valtron West    

    Can you help me find a basic training photo of me please? I’m a veteran and have access to none of that due to my homelessness at a time in my life. Help is needed and would be much appreciated

    1. 1SG(R) Joe Yorski    

      The VA can’t help you do that. Your best best is to go on Facebook, find a group for the places you went to training and see if you can get a copy from someone you served with. or eBay to see if there’s a graduation book from your time. but the VA definitely isn’t going to be able to help you with that.

  6. Ronald G.Ciocci    

    You are a very determined man, along with your comrades, whom achieved the highest qualities and accomplishments in life – still being the person you were at that time, of course not forgetting, remaining alive. I had wished you the very best in life and I still will, always.

  7. 1SG(R) Joe Yorski    

    Nice. You may want to edit though. There’s no such thing as a “POW/MIA” ribbon. Chief Durant did earn and is wearing in the photo the “POW Medal” though.

Comments are closed.