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Navy SEALS Decorated For Gallantry in Somalia

April 13, 1994 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Navy lifted the secrecy normally covering special operations forces Wednesday to honor five Navy SEALS for heroism during a deadly street battle in Mogadishu.

Silver Stars, one of the service’s highest combat awards, were presented to all five men for ″conspicuous gallantry″ displayed under Somali gunfire during the Oct. 3-4 battle and rescue mission, a Navy statement said.

One of the men was wounded three times in the fierce fighting, the third time as he tried to help evacuate a helicopter crash site during the 15-hour conflict.


In all, 18 Americans died and 80 were wounded in the battle, which prompted President Clinton to announce plans to withdraw all U.S. combat forces from Somalia.

Members of the highly trained SEAL (Sea Air Land) units normally shroud their activities in secrecy, but the Navy released photos of the men and widely distributed the announcements of their award citations, which brought to light their roles in the event.

The SEALS were accompanied a ″quick reaction force″ primarily composed of U.S. Army Rangers sent on a U.N. mission to capture Somali clan leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Although 24 Aidid supporters were captured in the battle, his forces shot down two Blackhawk helicopters and then turned on those sent in to rescue the downed crews and soldiers.

Several of the SEALS were part of the initial assault force, and helped pick up many of the wounded and brought them out in a truck. They then fought their way back into and out of the helicopter crash sites with other relief forces, the citations said.

The Army has nominated two soldiers posthumously for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat award, in connection with their actions in the same event.

In recent weeks, the Army has awarded 24 Silver Stars, seven Flying Crosses and 49 Bronze Stars to soldiers for heroism in the action. The Air Force has awarded one Air Force Cross and two Silver Stars for heroism.

At a Pentagon ceremony, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Frank Kelso honored:

- Capt. Eric T. Olson, 42, assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.

- Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard A. Kaiser, 32, Oak Creek, Wis.

- Chief Signalman John G. Gay, 35, Clayton, N.C.

- Quartermaster 1st Class Homer L. Nearpass, 31, Reno, Nev.

- Hull Technician First Class Howard E. Wasdin, 32, Odum, Ga., who was wounded three times in the battle.