Two decades ago, I was a young soldier stationed at Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center (LARMC) in Landstuhl, Germany. It was and is the largest American hospital outside of the United States. It’s the place you’ve seen on the news where service members have been evacuated to from places such as Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of the War on Terror.
Somalia was the hot spot in the world while this young army medic was stationed at LARMC. I worked on the orthopedic ward, so most of our patients were there for procedures on shoulders, backs, and knees; however, we would get in a soldier or two every other day from the African nation. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but that would all change on October 3, 1993.
We were watching the news at work one day when a breaking report alerted us of an all-out battle in Somalia. During an operation aimed at capturing the leaders of the Habr Gidr clan, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket propelled grenades and three others were damaged. The follow-on operation to secure and recover the crews of both helicopters was supposed to last no more than an hour, but that was not the case. The overnight battle resulted in deaths of 18 American service members with another 80 wounded. Additionally, one of the pilots of the downed aircraft, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, was taken into captivity where he would remain for 11 days. He was the only member of his crew to survive.
Officially, this was “The Battle of Mogadishu,” but if you read the book or saw the movie, you likely know it as Black Hawk Down.
The wounded would arrive at LARMC 18 hours later. We were very busy that day as they arrived at the ward in bunches. All the elective surgeries had been cancelled. Every bed was allotted to the men of Mogadishu. We were ready. We took care of them. It was an honor and truly the highlight of my stint as an enlisted man in the army. After his release from captivity, Chief Durant was evacuated to LARMC. He, however, due to all the press and hoopla surrounding his captivity and subsequent release, had an entire wing of the hospital to himself with armed guards and everything. I never laid eyes on him. It would have been an honor to meet and treat an American hero of his stature.
Last week, I reminded my wife of an upcoming speaking gig I had in Clarksville, Tenn. in the shadows of Ft. Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division. In fact, I reminded her on Friday and the gig was on Saturday. She was none too pleased that I hadn’t reminded her earlier. She asked if it was on the calendar but then remembered that we didn’t yet have a 2015 calendar on the refrigerator. I then reminded her that I had two free calendars that I’d picked up from the pharmacy.
“Yeah, but they aren’t cute,” she said. “I’ll go buy one.”
Apparently calendars with numbers and months don’t work. They have to be cute. Who knew?
The gig in Clarksville was for a company appreciation dinner for a company called Pinnacle Solutions, which is based out of Huntsville. To the best of my knowledge, their mission is to provide service, support and training for flight simulators at installations across the world. I had a great time that night and the talk was well received as evident by the continuous laughter.
Fortunately, the owner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions was in attendance. We spoke in great detail, too. That’s not always the case, but it’s a good thing for me and the employees of the respective organization when he or she takes the time to do so. In this case, it was a he, and his name was Chief Warrant Officer (ret.) Michael Durant.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at For more information, please visit