Veteran shares story of "Black Hawk Down" in Sarasota

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:19 pm | Updated: 4:11 pm, Fri Nov 8, 2013.

SARASOTA-- Over the last two decades, there have been many books and movies showcasing the Battle of Mogadishu, also known as "Black Hawk Down." Nobody, however, can tell the story better than someone who actually witnessed it.

Keni Thomas, a retired Army Ranger Staff Sergeant, fought in the battle that began October 3, 1993. Thomas and other soldiers were on the front line to capture a local warlord and his senior staff members. Thomas shared his story during a Legacy of Valor luncheon Thursday afternoon in Sarasota.

"Who would have thought that after twenty years, people would still be interested in the story," said Thomas. "My goal of the story is to make sure everyone in the audience understands leadership never meant being in charge. It's about the example you set."

18 U.S. soldiers died in Mogadishu during the battle and dozens more wounded. Thomas was on the ground when the first black hawk helicopter went down.

"There were about 130 of us running to this crash site, fighting off the city of Mogadishu," said Thomas.

Thomas fought for hours against thousands of armed militiamen and civilians.

"At some point of the battle, you come to peace with the fact that if I did here, I die here, but if I'm not going to let that happen to the guys around me," said Thomas.

Thomas is sharing his message as well in a new book titled "Get it on!" Today's lunch was put on by the Junior Leagues of Sarasota and Manatee county.

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