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'Black Hawk Down' Hero to Speak at UK

By Kelley Bozeman

 

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Collett saw the first helicopter go down and knew right then that "the whole mission had changed . . .you didn't even have to come over the radio to know we were going to move to secure that crash site." Over the next several hours Collett moved to several buildings near the crash site before U.S. and Pakistani forces equipped with armored personnel carriers met them and eventually carried them out of the combat zone.

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Lexington, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2002) -- U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class John Collett did not just see the movie "Black Hawk Down," he lived it. Collett, who served as technical consultant and stuntman on the motion picture "Black Hawk Down," will speak about the 1993 18-hour nightmarish showdown in Mogadishu, Somalia, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the University of Kentucky Student Center Grand Ballroom. The free engagement is sponsored by Student Activities Board.

The mission was to capture top members of a warlord clan at a hotel in the heart of Mogadishu. When two of the Army's high-tech MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, a routine mission became a full-fledged confrontation. U.S. troops were overwhelmed by thousands of armed Somalis, and by the following morning, 18 American soldiers were dead and more than 70 seriously injured.

Collett saw the first helicopter go down and knew right then that "the whole mission had changed . . .you didn't even have to come over the radio to know we were going to move to secure that crash site." Over the next several hours Collett moved to several buildings near the crash site before U.S. and Pakistani forces equipped with armored personnel carriers met them and eventually carried them out of the combat zone.

Collett hopes his experience will give audiences an idea of what the "American soldier is on the ground doing in Afghanistan or wherever they are going to be sent" and that "war is costly."

As one of the surviving Rangers, Collett's heroism earned him a Purple Heart and a place in American history.


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