Date with History: Black Hawk Down 30 Years Later

Event Details

Tue, Aug 29, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:

Cantigny Visitors Center

1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
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Le Jardin at Cantigny Park
Tuesday, August 29, 7 PM
Free event, no parking fee

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In response to increasing and deadly attacks on American and United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) forces, a Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) was deployed with the mission of capturing General Muhammed Farah Aideed and his key leaders and turning them over to UNOSOM forces. Task Force Ranger (TF Ranger), under the command of Major General William F. Garrison, comprised of special operations ground forces, special operations helicopters, US Air Force Special Tactics personnel, and US Navy SEALS arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia on August 29, 1993.

Today, 30 years later, some of the soldiers of TF Ranger share their experiences and lessons learned during this operation which foreshadowed later military operations by the United States and her Special Operations forces.


Colonel (Retired) Nick Johnson, Psy.D.
Colonel Nick Johnson is a Chicago native who served as an Infantry officer with the Illinois Army National Guard for thirty-two years before retiring in June 2022. He commanded at every level from Company to Brigade and supported military operations in Panama, Poland, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Ukraine.

As a citizen-Soldier, he has nearly thirty years of experience in community mental health and is currently employed as a Clinical Psychologist with the US Department of Veterans Affairs at the Great Lakes Naval Station’s Recruit Evaluation Unit.

Col. Johnson will moderate a mixed panel of in-person and virtual presenters.


Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) James Lechner (presenting via Zoom)
Lieutenant Colonel James Lechner retired from the United States Army after twenty-seven years of service. He served in a variety of command and staff positions within conventional and special operations units and participated in eight operational deployments in the Sinai, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Most notable were his service in Somalia with Task Force Ranger as part of Operation Gothic Thunder made famous by the book and movie “Black Hawk Down” and later in Ramadi, Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom that is chronicled in the books “A Chance in Hell” and “A Soldier’s Dream.”

In addition to his many deployments, Jim has served as an advisor to the National Security Council as well as numerous tours advising the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Jim has served as a war Correspondent with Newsmax, the Washington Times, and a number of other outlets. He and his family reside in Chapin, South Carolina. His memoir, “With My Shield” will be released this fall by Osprey Publishers.

Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Sean Watson (presenting via Zoom)
Command Sergeant Major Sean Watson enlisted into the United States Army as an Infantryman on July 12, 1983 and has served in every capacity from Rifleman to Command Sergeant Major retiring in June 2015. He served nine years with the 75th Ranger Regiment in various leadership positions and as an Instructor for the Regimental Selection Course. His service with the Regiment also includes two combat tours. First during Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989 and then as part of Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993.

Command Sergeant Major Watson has served in senior enlisted roles from Company First Sergeant to Brigade Command Sergeant Major in the United States Special Operations Command, 101st Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. He and his wife of thirty-five years, Karen, resides in Gallatin, Tennessee and he continues to serve as a Veterans Service Representative with the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Nashville Regional Office.

Raleigh Cash (presenting via Zoom)
Raleigh Cash joined the United States Army in 1990 and went through basic and advanced training, and airborne school before attending and passing the selection course to join the Rangers. He was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment as a Fire Support Specialist. During the October 3, 1993 mission, Raleigh called for air support from the helicopters while simultaneously functioning as the vehicle NCOIC and was one of only two members of the fire support team who was not wounded during the battle.

Raleigh went on to use his knowledge of urban fighting to train Rangers in close proximity combat and fire support and then worked in the Joint Close Air Support Section in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to rewrite Close Air Support (CAS) doctrine across all the services. He left the Army in 2002 and currently works as a non-medical Case Manager for the Special Operations Command Care Coalition helping wounded, ill, and injured service members recover, retire, or transition out of the service. Raleigh and his wife, Jennifer, lives in Savannah, GA with their two sons, Mason and Hunter.

Michael Goodale (presenting in person)
Michael Goodale enlisted in the United States Army in 1990 as an Artilleryman. After his initial training and selection, he was assigned as a Forward Observer to Company B, 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. In August 1993, Sergeant Goodale was deployed to Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger. For his service during that operation, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with the Valor device and the Purple Heart.

After completing his service on active duty, he returned home to Illinois to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Military History while continuing to serve as a member of the Illinois Army National Guard with Company C, 1th Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment. This time as an Infantryman. He built a career in and out of the classroom as a high school History teacher and the Public Programs Manager here at Cantigny. He worked as a Medical Case Manager for wounded service members, and most recently as an Information Security Manager for several financial institutions. Michael and his wife, Kira, have two children, Jerod and Madelyn.

About Date with History

Our Date with History series, now in its 16th year, features presentations by authors, historians, documentarians, and veterans on a variety of military history topics. Visit Cantigny or attend online to connect with these experts in a lecture and Q&A format.