Sergeant Jeff Struecker was 24 years old when he led a squad of men through Mogadishu in an assault mission that quickly took a horrific turn. In an interview with 'This Week,' Struecker remembers the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu and his recent return to Somalia, which was documented and made into a short film, "Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down."
"When I went back there this spring and turned the corner into the Bakaara Market, immediately the emotions, the smells, the thoughts from Mogadishu came flooding back like I was just there yesterday," the former Army Ranger told ABC's Matthew Dowd.
The US military intervention intended to restore peace to Somalia, but quickly ended as soon as it turned deadly for the American elite army team, whose black hawk helicopter was brought down by warlord militiamen. The episode was the inspiration for both a book and a Hollywood film - "Black Hawk Down."
"I went through what is still to this day the most intense gunfight I've ever been in, in my life … One of the men that I was responsible for was shot in the head and killed instantly right behind me as I was driving back to our base," Struecker said. "And there was nothing that I could do about it."
Despite the surprise attack and the subsequent chaos unfolding around him, Struecker and his team had to go back in.
"All of us were thinking, okay, this is a suicide mission. If we go back through what we just drove through, every one of us is going to die," Struecker said. "But Rangers live by the Ranger creed, and the Ranger creed says I'll never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy."
Struecker, who is now a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia, said his faith in Jesus Christ was the only reason he was able to go back into the streets of Mogadishu multiple times that night.
"When I have a chance to talk to military audiences now that I'm retired from the Army, and a pastor…I tell them that there's something that happens at the soul level to a man or a woman, when she goes off to war, or he does, and he kills for the first time," Struecker said.
"Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down" tells the story of his journey back to where it all happened twenty years ago this week.
Watch the entire documentary "Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down" below courtesy of Return to Mogadishu.
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