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"Black Hawk Down" battle veteran on wars past and present

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A local Army veteran who trained as a Ranger on Fort Benning and served in a mission in Somalia best known as the "Black Hawk Down" mission is using the story of his fellow soldiers to inspire others to lead.

With music and the pages of a book, Keni Thomas is using his experience as an Army Ranger in Somalia to inspire others.

"The first helicopter got shot down while we were there. He was watching over. So, now, the mission has totally changed. It becomes a rescue mission to go secure that crash site and help the guys that were wounded on the crash," said Thomas.

In his new book, Get it on: What it Means to Lead the Way former Fort Benning soldier describes the importance of the leadership in that mission and can be applied in everyday life.

"It's the example you set, and so the story I focus on is the young guys who they weren't in charge of anyone. The only people they were in charge of were themselves, but the example and the leadership they showed saved lives."

It has been almost 20 years since the battle in Somalia, and now, the recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor and the Combat Infantryman's Badge waits for his friends to come home from a different fight.

"I'm proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree. Welcome home," said President Obama at a ceremony on Fort Bragg.

The President announced earlier this year that nearly all of the U.S. Troops in Iraq will be home by the end of this month.

Thomas has been on multiple trips to the country to sing for the troops and says he can see a transformation in Iraq.

"I've seen changes, and I can tell you there has been a substantial mission success with what the American military went there to do they helped that country," said Thomas.

He has a message to those soldiers coming home.

"You're allowed to be happy, and they get it. They know what I mean by that because they're going to come back and its going to seem like this is a different world."

Thomas says part of the proceeds from his work goes to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The organization provides college educations to the children of Special Operations personnel killed in combat or training.

Thomas will play at the Fort Benning PX December 15th from 11:30am to 1:30pm.


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