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‘Black Hawk Down’ survivor to speak in Salem

Retired U.S. Army Col. Danny McKnight, whose heroism as a convoy commander in Somalia was detailed in the movie “Black Hawk Down,” will speak at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday at Eastwood Christian School in Salem, Ala.

A Columbus native who served 30 years in the Army, McKnight was played by actor Tom Sizemore in the popular 2001 movie, based on a book by Mark Bowden, that told the true story of a Ranger strike force fighting its way out of downtown Mogadishu when its mission went awry following a helicopter crash.

In the chaos that ensued, a second Black Hawk went down, and 19 Americans and an estimated 1,000 Somalis were killed in close-quarters firefights as Somali milita swarmed the Rangers and the Delta Force they were aiding in the capture of two lieutenants serving warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid.

Their mission on Oct. 3, 1993, was expected to last an hour. The battle went on for 15 hours.

Film fans may remember Sizemore’s fearless character acting cooly under intense enemy fire, shouting orders and keeping his lost convoy moving so it would not get pinned down.

The man Sizemore portrayed served in combat not only in Somalia in 1993 but also in the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.

Officials from the Alabama National Guard, Georgia National Guard and Fort Benning will attend Wednesday's event.

They are guests of the 204th Battalion of the Alabama State Defense Force, which will present Eastwood Christian School a charter for a cadet training program, the first at a private school in Alabama.

Equal to the National Guard, the state defense force aids the Red Cross and state homeland defense groups, providing the governor a ready force in emergencies.

Eastwood Christian School is at 2176 Lee Road 183, two miles off of U.S. 280. For more information about the event, call 334-749-1859. To learn more about McKnight, see www.dannymcknight.com.

For more about the movie “Black Hawk Down,” visit www.imdb.com/title/tt0265086.

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