I was excited to try this event, as it had a reputation for being a notch above the standard GORUCK Tough level of difficulty, and because I love the historical/memorial nature of the event. It absolutely did not disappoint.
Reviewing everyone’s gear found two people who did not have everything on the packing list. To pay for this, the team had to do two laps up and down the stairs of a parking structure next to our start point.
We came down from the second lap and crammed everyone into the space at the bottom of the stairs, to find that we had missed our time hack. We were given a second chance, 2 laps, no breaks in formation, 10 minutes, with the understanding that if we failed we would spend several hours doing nothing but stairs.
We made it in 8:30.
We were then given our first movement instructions and time hack and moved out.
We got to the park that was our destination, found that we missed the time hack, and someone had left behind a piece of gear, both of which we would be punished for.
Into the nearby duck pond for 50 squats in chest-deep water…
And 30 overhead levers with our waterlogged rucks.
Out of the water, form up, and have a talk with the Cadre explaining the background of the situation in Somalia that lead to the US going in. Civil war, famine, UN food shipments. What do food shipments mean at a GORUCK event? That’s right, supply carry. Only people with something else to carry get to wear their rucks, everyone else must carry them with their hands or forearms (ruck cannot go higher than your elbows). Destination, time hack, move out.
That carry sucked. Crossing both arms helped a bit, and at some point I got one of the water jugs to carry so I could wear my ruck again. We reached our destination, missed our time hack, and were punished with 60 four-count flutter kicks. Cadre made it clear to us that time hacks would be enforced, and the pattern we were noticing of penalties getting worse would continue.
We then formed a half-circle around Cadre as he told us the next segment of the Mogadishu story, the UN involvement, the US coming in, communication failures, the start of the raid that would lead to the battle.
New team leads, new destination, move out. There is a point in every event where memories start to get fuzzy, and that happened about here on this one. The following is absolutely incomplete and may be out of order.
We had a navigation failure and went past one of our objectives, and did bounding rushing drills to get back to it. Alternately yelling out “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” when moving and “Die m—–f—er die!” when not. (Apparently the second phrase is used to track the length of a machine gun burst.)
We filled the water jugs to add to our weight to carry, and topped off the water we were drinking from them throughout the night. Lightening the jugs was an additional motivation to stay hydrated.
We stopped at several points for Cadre to tell us more of the story and what we could learn from it. Shortly after the story of the firefight, we formed up for a PT test that would determine how many casualties we would have on the next movement. Why do a PT test several hours in? Because no one cares what you can do when you are fresh and at your best. Those soldiers 11 hours into the fight were not fresh, and still had to deliver.
I surprised myself by completing the 42 required pushups. 7 people were unable to, and Cadre offered to erase that if 7 of us could do it again. My first thought was to let the fitter members of the team do it, but when I saw only 4 step forward I stepped up. It was not as fast and not as pretty the second time around, but I made 42 again.
Situp test didn’t go as well. 14 failed (including me) and of the 14 that retested, 11 made it. A debt of 3 failures remained, so 3 casualties. We went off, swapping out as needed with 3 people under each casualty. This turned out to be too slow, and we got 70 eight-count body builders as a result.
We were given a memory test, to memorize all of this:
I happened to be the one called to recite all that was there, and I nailed it.
On one of our later movements, I tripped and fell and bloodied my chin. (It would later require 7 stitches.) One of the team broke out some tape and gauze, patched it up as well as he could, and we were back moving. Even with my fall, we made that time hack.
Distraction drill- Everyone on the team waiting in an uncomfortable position, while two volunteers must follow simple instructions. While we were working as a team enough to never have to wait for a volunteer, we forgot stupid, basic things in the rush to get everyone into a more comfortable condition. It took us a few go-rounds, but we finally got it. Cadre explained to us how this was minor compared to the confusion and pressure on the ground in Mogadishu, and that we should learn from this. This bit is what probably sticks in my head the most from a learning perspective.
We moved back to our start point and stood at attention for the reading of the Medal of Honor citations of Shughart and Gordon (which nearly brought me to tears, these two exemplify so much that should be emulated). It intentionally looked like the endex… and then two new team leads were called for.
New mission: a blackhawk has crashed in a park half a mile from here. There are wounded, we need to go get them. Move out.
We made our time hack getting there, and Cadre explained our final movement. Start with 5 casualties. The cadre will follow behind, moving at a set pace, looking a bit like this:
If they catch up to the last person, we take another casualty. If you keep it together and stay moving, 5 casualties are all you will have. If someone steps on their shoelaces, things can go to crap quickly.
At first we had a set group of people on each casualty, and because I was injured they put me carrying one of the rucks taken from the casualties. We had some slow changes and gained a couple more casualties, and the system started to break down, so I handed off the ruck and started grabbing people whenever I could. (Even arguing with a few who didn’t want me to carry because I was hurt or because they thought I would trip again.) It is funny that when someone tells you that you are hurt so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting, you usually say thank you and go about your day. In a movement like this, when someone told me I couldn’t carry, my brain’s first response was, “Listen, f—er, I got this.”
We made our way to our endex, appropriately enough at a stadium, and formed up. Cadre gave us a short talk and read off the names of the 18 men who died that day. In their honor, we did 18 pushups. I’m pretty sure we all made them as close to perfect as we possibly could.
I think the bloody Santa Clause may be the best patching photo I have ever gotten:
Then I headed off to get a quick shower and find a doctor to stitch up my chin.
This was an awesome event. I learned a lot about the historical events of Mogadishu, and even more about how to push to be a better teammate. Can’t wait to do it again.