Michael J. "Mike" Durant (born July 23, 1961) is an American pilot and author. He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a Chief Warrant Officer 3. He retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 Blackhawk helicopter Master Aviator in the 160th SOAR after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, and Desert Storm, and also Gothic Serpent, in which he was briefly held prisoner in 1993 after a raid in Somalia. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, Prisoner of War Medal, and many others.
Michael J. Durant
Mike Durant speaking at Tyndall Air Force Base in November 2002
|Born||July 23, 1961|
Berlin, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1979–2001|
|Rank||Chief Warrant Officer 4|
|Unit||160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Operation Prime Chance|
Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Gothic Serpent
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal|
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (3)
Prisoner of War Medal
Lorrie Durant (1st wife)
Joey Durant (son)
Taylor Durant (daughter)
Life and careerEdit
Born in Berlin, New Hampshire, the son of Leon and Louise Durant, he entered the U.S. Army in August 1979. Following basic training, he attended the Defense Language Institute, and was then assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Clayton in Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator. He then completed helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. During flight school, he flew the TH-55 trainer and UH-1 helicopters.
Upon appointment to Warrant Officer 1 in November 1983, he completed the UH-60 Blackhawk Aviators Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, South Korea. By the time he was 24, he had flown more than 150 medevac missions in the UH-1 and UH-60. After 18 months, he moved to the 101st (Division) Aviation Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As a Chief Warrant Officer 2, he attended the instructor pilot course and flew air assault missions in the UH-60. Durant joined the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) on August 1, 1988. Assigned to D Company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance; Just Cause; and Operation Desert Storm, where he was the first U.S. helicopter pilot to shoot at a SCUD missile launcher.
During Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia, Durant was the pilot of helicopter "Super Six Four." His was the second MH-60L of two Black Hawk helicopters to crash during the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. After his helicopter was hit on the tail by a rocket-propelled grenade, it crashed about a mile southwest of the operation's target.
Durant and his crew of three, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank, and Tommy Field, were badly injured in the crash. Durant suffered a crushed vertebra in his back and a compound fracture of his left femur. Two Delta Force snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, had been providing suppressive fire from the air at hostile Somalis who were converging on the crash site. Both volunteered for insertion onto the ground to protect the crew and join Durant in fighting off the advancing Somalis. The pair killed an estimated 25 Somalis before they ran out of ammunition. They were soon overwhelmed and killed, after Cleveland, Frank and Field had died. Both Gordon and Shughart received the Medal of Honor posthumously for their heroism in this action.
The hostile Somalis captured Durant, the sole American survivor, and held him captive for 11 days. During much of his imprisonment, he was personally protected and cared for by Abdullahi "Firimbi" Hassan, a physician and propaganda minister to Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid, though he was shot in his arm by an intruding militia member. Aidid then released Durant and a Nigerian soldier who had been captured previously into the custody of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
After being freed, and recovering at Landstuhl Air Base in Germany, Durant resumed flying with the 160th SOAR. He retired from the Army in 2001 with more than 3,700 flight hours, over 1,400 of which were flown with night vision goggles. He now offers seminars to military personnel about helicopter maneuvering and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations.
Durant talks about the Somalia raid and the experiences he had while in captivity. He spoke extensively with actor Ron Eldard, who portrayed him in the movie Black Hawk Down, which chronicles the events of the raid.
Durant was a member of the Bush-Cheney '04 Veterans Team and the McCain '08 Veterans team. In this political capacity for McCain, he criticized the presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, for having cancelled a planned trip to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) near Ramstein Air Base in Germany where he had intended, while in Europe, to visit American casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Durant said he thought this was inappropriate for a potential commander in chief. Obama felt that he did not want to exploit the visit for the benefit of his campaign, prior to the election, but he did telephone those recovering military patients there and also paid a visit to a military hospital in Baghdad and to troops in Afghanistan. Retired two-star Air Force general Scott Gration, who advised the campaign and traveled with Obama on the trip said: "Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go."
Durant holds a BSc degree in professional aeronautics and a MBA degree in aviation management from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is owner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering services company based in Huntsville, Alabama. Pinnacle Solutions specializes in aviation training and the development of sophisticated training devices such as high-fidelity aircraft simulators. He and his wife, Lisa, have six children.
- ACSC GOE: Michael J. Durant 2005 Biography Archived 2007-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
- Eversmann, Matt (2005). The battle of Mogadishu: first-hand accounts from the men of Task Force Ranger. Presidio Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-345-45966-4.
- "Encore Presentation: 1993 Interview With Michael Durant," CNN: Larry King Weekend (January 27, 2002).
- Willbanks, James H. (2011). America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan. ABC-CLIO. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-59884-393-4.
- Williams, James (2005). A History of Army Aviation: From Its Beginnings to the War on Terror. iUniverse. p. 373. ISBN 978-0-595-36608-8.
- Rubin, Steven Jay (2011). Combat Films: American Realism, 1945 - 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-7864-5892-9.
- Durant, Michael & Hartov, Steven (2003). In the Company of Heroes. Putnam Pub Group. ISBN 0-399-15060-9.
- "BUSH-CHENEY '04 NATIONAL VETERANS STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS". George Washington University. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- "Vet vs. Obama," FoxNews.com (July 29, 2008).
- The cancellation of Obama's troop visit, New York Times, Jeff Zeleny, July 25, 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Michael Durant - Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau