4/13/2021
Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Ads By Google
Somalia 20 years later: Veterans gather in Plano to see old friends, remember fallen brothers
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff Photo: Deanna Joyce Beck and Mike Dyer light a candle in memory of Casey Joyce, Deanna's husband and a Plano Senior High graduate, who was killed during the Battle of Mogadishu. For additional photos, visit
Star Community Newspapers
Saturday, October 05, 2013

Ads By Google
"We were part of something good, and we should be proud of what we did. We went out there and did the best we could with what we had."

That is the way former Army Ranger Mike Kurth described the military action in Somalia 20 years ago. Kurth, a Houston native, was one of several dozen veterans of the Battle of Mogadishu who gathered in Plano Thursday to recognize the 20th anniversary of the battle, one of the darkest days in recent military history.

On Oct. 3, 1993, 19 soldiers died in a battle that has become known as Black Hawk Down. Those killed in action consisted of Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, Night Stalker helicopter crew members and soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. Each of the men was honored Thursday night in an emotional ceremony that served not only as a way to remember fallen friends, but also as a reunion for those who survived the battle.

That is the way former Army Ranger Mike Kurth described the military action in Somalia 20 years ago. Kurth, a Houston native, was one of several dozen veterans of the Battle of Mogadishu who gathered in Plano Thursday to recognize the 20th anniversary of the battle, one of the darkest days in recent military history.

On Oct. 3, 1993, 19 soldiers died in a battle that has become known as Black Hawk Down. Those killed in action consisted of Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, Night Stalker helicopter crew members and soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. Each of the men was honored Thursday night in an emotional ceremony that served not only as a way to remember fallen friends, but also as a reunion for those who survived the battle.z

That is the way former Army Ranger Mike Kurth described the military action in Somalia 20 years ago. Kurth, a Houston native, was one of several dozen veterans of the Battle of Mogadishu who gathered in Plano Thursday to recognize the 20th anniversary of the battle, one of the darkest days in recent military history.

On Oct. 3, 1993, 19 soldiers died in a battle that has become known as Black Hawk Down. Those killed in action consisted of Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, Night Stalker helicopter crew members and soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. Each of the men was honored Thursday night in an emotional ceremony that served not only as a way to remember fallen friends, but also as a reunion for those who survived the battle."We celebrate their lives because they were great people, but you are sad because they were such great people and they are not with us anymore," said retired Col. Danny McKnight, the Rangers' commander during the battle. "Tonight I have seen some guys I haven't seen in 20 years. It was one of the greatest feelings you could ever have."

McKnight traveled from Florida to attend the reunion, but the trip was not direct. Along the way, he visited the graves of the six Rangers killed that day, including a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to pay his respects to Sgt. Casey Joyce, a 1987 Plano Senior graduate.

Thursday night's reunion occurred at Casey Joyce All-America Post 4380, a location Kurth said was a perfect tribute to the fallen Ranger.

"I can't think of a better way to start this weekend than being here in the James Casey Joyce VFW," he said. "There is no place I would rather be right now."

All of the soldiers who took part in the battle were deeply affected by what occurred. Kurth lost his two best friends, Joyce and Sgt. Dominick Pilla, both of whom were killed while attempting to rescue injured soldiers.

"We all met at the reception station before basic training and ended up going to Airborne School together," Kurth said. "It was the three musketeers; if you found one of us, you found all of us. Me and Casey went to Ranger School together, and then Dominick went one class after us. We were separated but quickly got back together again. About a year later we got orders to go to Mogadishu."

Kurth remembers Joyce as one of the most squared-away, dedicated Rangers he ever served with. He said Joyce's attention to detail was outstanding, a trait that came in handy during Ranger School when the two leaned on one another.

"Tonight brings back the memories," he said. "It made me think about the morning of Oct. 4 when I heard the names. [Dale] Sizemore came up to me teary-eyed and said, 'They're gone.' I asked him what he meant, 'Did they just go back to the rear? Where are they at?' He said, 'No, they are all dead.' When he listed off the names of Pilla and Joyce I was just crushed. I collapsed at the edge of the bunker I was sitting at because I didn't just lose one, I lost two. That still pains me 20 years later."

Several members of Joyce's family attended the service, including his widow, Deanna Joyce Beck, and his siblings, Steve and Sancy. Steve said he felt his brother, and all others who took part in the battle, did so because they felt a sense of calling to serve their country, even if it meant giving their lives for their fellow soldiers.

"Casey heard a call [to serve], but it wasn't a call that came from politicians, it was a call that came from deep within," Steve said. "It was a call that was planted in his heart and he answered it -- 'Here am I, send me.'

"I have heard that to become a Ranger you have to volunteer three times: once when you join the Army, again for airborne and again to become a Ranger. I believe it is this spirit of volunteerism that is in the character of men. Rangers lead the way not because of a creed on a plaque. You see, Rangers lead the way because of a creed that is written on their hearts. ... My brother gave his life on those dusty streets living out the Ranger Creed."


advertisements
 





Click here