When "Super 61" crashed, the whole mission changed. It was no longer a 45-minute plan to extract Aidid’s lieutenants and then return two miles to base. Now the hunters were the hunted as a screaming mass of Aidid supporters ran to the crash site. The Rangers estimate they were outnumbered thirty to one. Crowds of bystanders can become as dangerous as military troops.
Chris Wolcott’s body was pinned in his Black Hawk. The men on the ground did not have the right equipment to extract him. Some of the Rangers, like Lt. Tom Di Tomasso, spent seventeen hours guarding Wolcott. Matt Eversmann, trying to get to the crash site in his vehicle, was ambushed. By the time he returned to base, his men sustained heavy casualties: six killed and twenty-nine wounded.
As dusk gave way to darkness, Rangers and Delta Force commandos were in for a difficult evening. Although choppers dropped supplies, they could not meet all the needs of the injured. Jamie Smith, for example, had a severed femoral artery. Without full medical attention, he could not be saved.
Meanwhile, the men who were at the base saw television broadcasts of the battle. The soldiers were furious about the reports. What was the purpose, they wondered, of telling the world that soldiers were still missing? Wouldn’t such information jeopardize men who might otherwise have been safe for the night? And why broadcast pictures of a dead American, being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, while others were still at risk?
It would be a long night.