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Technical Sergeant Timothy Wilkinson

In response to Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s deadly attack on United Nations and US forces in 1993, a joint special operations task force was sent to Somalia to capture Aidid and his lieutenants. Task Force Ranger, composed of US Army, Navy, and Air Force Special Operations forces was formed.

On October 3, 1993, during a mission to capture two high value targets, Somali forces shot down an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, call sign Super-61. Receiving heavier than expected small arms fire and resistance, the mission quickly switched from extraction to rescue.

Over the next fifteen hours, eighteen Americans were killed, eighty-four wounded, and two helicopters were destroyed, in what became the longest ground battle since the Vietnam War.

Enlisted Heroism   Eleven enlisted pararescuemen and combat controllers from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron were attached to Task Force Ranger. Serving in all areas of operation including command and control, search and rescue, and Humvee drivers. All eleven Airmen were decorated for heroism, including two of the highest military awards for valor.

Technical Sergeant Timothy Wilkinson, a pararescueman, was awarded the Air Force Cross for repeatedly exposing himself to intense small arms fire and grenade explosions from three directions. He provided lifesaving medical treatment to the wounded while extracting the casualties from Super-61. He became the first enlisted Airman to receive the award since 1975.

Pararescueman MSgt Scott Fales and combat controller SSgt Jeffrey Bray were both awarded the Silver Star for their heroism during the firefight. MSgt Fales, having been shot through the leg, assisted TSgt Wilkinson with treating the wounded, while SSgt Bray radioed in nonstop air strikes to stop the enemy from overrunning their position.

One other pararescueman and seven combat controllers also received the Bronze Star, three with Valor. The superb abilities displayed by these enlisted men demonstrated their selflessness and the skill and talent needed to perform their duties under extreme circumstances.


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