PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – It was 20 years ago when America fought its first battle with Al-Qaeda. The mission to capture top lieutenants of a Somali warlord was going well in 1993, until a rocket-propelled grenade hit what was known as Super 61, and the “Black Hawk Down” battle had begun.
A total of 19 Americans died in that fight, including one man from North Texas. A group of more than 100 veterans of that mission gathered in Plano on Thursday night to remember those who were lost.
DeAnna Joyce-Beck still has the letters, news articles and mementos from her short life as an Army wife. “It was so long ago,” she said. “We were so young.” The Frisco teacher married Army Ranger Casey Joyce two years before the Plano Senior High School graduate was sent off to Somalia on a mission in 1993, to capture a wanted warlord.
“He loved every bit of his job,” Joyce-Beck recalled.
Just-released government video shows a helicopter crashing along a dusty street in Mogadishu. That crash led to a rescue attempt and then an unexpected firefight. Joyce was shot in the back.
“We knew something was going on and, by that night, I had heard on CNN that 11 soldiers had been killed,” Joyce-Beck said. “Woke up that next morning and got a knock at the door.”
While the movie “Black Hawk Down” dramatized the events of that day, which ended with 19 soldiers dead, the real survivors observed the mission’s 20th anniversary in Plano on Thursday. One of the men attending the event said that he owes his life to Joyce, who pulled him to safety from the downed chopper. He came to Plano to hug Joyce’s wife.
The event had been scheduled to take place at Fort Bragg, but the government shutdown forced the official remembrance to relocate.
Joyce-Beck has since re-married, but she is still proud of her first love, and their brief time together. “I know that he would have no regrets,” she said, “and I feel the same way.”
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