Michael Durant

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For the South African-born Namibian cricketer, see Michael Durant (cricketer). For the Major League Baseball player, see Mike Durant (baseball).
Michael J. Durant
Michael durant Nov 2002.jpg
Mike Durant speaking at Tyndall Air Force Base in November 2002
Nickname(s) Mike
Born (1961-07-23) July 23, 1961 (age 53)
Berlin, New Hampshire, U.S
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1979-2001
Rank Chief Warrant Officer 4
Unit 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment
Battles/wars Operation Prime Chance
Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Battle of Mogadishu (1993)
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Prisoner of War ribbon.svg Prisoner of War Medal
Relations Lisa Durant
Lorrie Durant (1st wife)
Joey Durant (son)
Taylor Durant (daughter)

Michael J. "Mike" Durant (born July 23, 1961) is an American pilot and author who was held prisoner for eleven days in 1993 after a raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a Chief Warrant Officer 3. He retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 Blackhawk helicopter Master Aviator in the 160th SOAR after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Gothic Serpent. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, POW Medal, and many others.

Life and career[edit]

Durant is a native of Berlin, New Hampshire, the son of Leon and Louise Durant. He entered the U.S. Army in August 1979. Following basic training, he attended the Defense Language Institute, and was then assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Clayton in Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator. He then completed helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. During flight school, he flew the TH-55 trainer and UH-1 helicopters.

Upon appointment to Warrant Officer 1 in November 1983, he completed the UH-60 Blackhawk Aviators Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, South Korea. By the time he was 24, he had flown over 150 medevac missions in the UH-1 and UH-60. After 18 months, he transitioned to the 101st Aviation Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As a Chief Warrant Officer 2, he attended the instructor pilot course and flew air assault missions in the UH-60. Durant joined the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) on August 1, 1988. Assigned to D Company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance; Just Cause; and Operation Desert Storm, where he was the first helicopter pilot to engage a SCUD missile launcher.[1]

During Operation Gothic Serpent, Durant was the pilot of Super Six Four, the second MH-60L Black Hawk helicopter to crash during the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. The helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on the tail, which led to its crash about a mile southwest of the operation's target.[2]

Durant and his crew of three, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank, and Tommy Field, survived the crash, though they were badly injured. Durant suffered a broken leg and a badly injured back.[3] Two Delta Force snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, had been providing suppressive fire from the air at hostile Somalis who were converging on the area. Both volunteered for insertion and fought off the advancing Somalis, killing an estimated 25 Somalis, until they ran out of ammunition and were overwhelmed and killed, along with Cleveland, Frank, and Field. Both Gordon and Shughart received the Medal of Honor posthumously for this action.[4]

The Somalis captured Durant and held him captive. Durant was the only member of his crew to survive. During much of his imprisonment, he was cared for by Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid's propaganda minister Abdullahi "Firimbi" Hassan. After eleven days in captivity, Aidid released Durant and a captured Nigerian soldier to the custody of the International Committee of the Red Cross.[3]

After being freed, Durant recovered and resumed flying with the 160th SOAR. Durant retired from the Army in 2001 with more than 3,700 flight hours, over 1,400 of which were flown under night vision goggles. He now offers seminars to military personnel about helicopter maneuvering and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations.[5]

Durant offers talks about the Somalia raid and the experiences he had in captivity. He spoke extensively with actor Ron Eldard, who portrayed Durant in the movie Black Hawk Down, which chronicles the events of the raid.[6]

In 2003, Durant published a book, In the Company of Heroes, in which he chronicles his military career and his captivity.[7]

Durant was a member of the Bush-Cheney '04 Veterans Team[8] and the McCain '08 Veterans team. In this capacity for McCain, he criticized presumed Presidential Democratic candidate Barack Obama for cancelling a planned trip to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) near Ramstein Air Base in Germany to visit American casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Durant said he thought this was inappropriate for a potential Commander in Chief especially since Durant himself had recovered from his wounds at LRMC.[9]

Durant holds a BS degree in professional aeronautics and a MBA degree in aviation management from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is owner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering services company based in Huntsville, Alabama.[10]

Durant and his wife, Lisa, have six children.

Works[edit]

  1. Durant, Michael & Hartov, Steven (2003). In the Company of Heroes. Putnam Pub Group. ISBN 0-399-15060-9. 
  2. Durant, Michael & Hartov, Steven (2003). The Night Stalkers. Putnam Pub Group. ISBN 0-399-15392-6. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ ACSC GOE: Michael J. Durant 2005 Biography
  2. ^ Eversmann, Matt (2005). The battle of Mogadishu: first-hand accounts from the men of Task Force Ranger. Presidio Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-345-45966-4. 
  3. ^ a b "Encore Presentation: 1993 Interview With Michael Durant," CNN: Larry King Weekend (January 27, 2002).
  4. ^ Willbanks, James H. (2011). America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan. ABC-CLIO. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-59884-393-4. 
  5. ^ Williams, James (2005). A History of Army Aviation: From Its Beginnings to the War on Terror. iUniverse. p. 373. ISBN 978-0-595-36608-8. 
  6. ^ Rubin, Steven Jay (2011). Combat Films: American Realism, 1945 - 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-7864-5892-9. 
  7. ^ Durant, Michael & Hartov, Steven (2003). In the Company of Heroes. Putnam Pub Group. ISBN 0-399-15060-9. 
  8. ^ "BUSH-CHENEY '04 NATIONAL VETERANS STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS". George Washington University. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Vet vs. Obama," FoxNews.com (July 29, 2008).
  10. ^ Michael Durant - Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau

External links[edit]