The Battle of Mogadishu
Jeffrey Bray was a combat controller in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. The battle was a joint operation between U.S. and U.N. forces to capture two top lieutenants of Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed, who was responsible for killing and starving thousands of civilians.
The operation went awry when two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenades in the city. A rescue team, consisting of 15 members from different branches and units, was sent to secure the crash sites and evacuate the survivors. Bray was part of this team, along with two other Airmen, Master Sgt. Scott Fales and Tech. Sgt. Tim Wilkinson, who were pararescuemen.
The team faced intense fire from thousands of armed militia and civilians, who surrounded them in a building near one of the crash sites. The team had to fight for their lives throughout the night, while waiting for reinforcements to arrive.
The Role of Jeffrey Bray
Bray played a crucial role in coordinating air support for the team and the convoy that was trying to reach them. He used his radio and laser designator to communicate with helicopter gunships and AC-130 gunships, and direct their fire on enemy targets. He also marked the locations of friendly forces with infrared strobes, to prevent friendly fire incidents.
Bray showed remarkable courage and skill in performing his duties, despite being under constant threat of enemy fire and having no prior experience in urban warfare. He improvised tactics and techniques on the spot, and adjusted his calls based on the changing situation. He also helped treat the wounded and defend the building from enemy assaults.
Bray’s actions saved dozens of lives and enabled the team and the convoy to eventually break out of the enemy encirclement and reach safety. He was later awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration for valor, for his “gallantry in action against an armed enemy of the United States.”
The Legacy of Jeffrey Bray
Jeffrey Bray retired from the Air Force in 2008, after serving for 21 years. He passed away on Oct. 24, 2016, at the age of 49, due to natural causes. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 30, 2016, with full military honors.
Bray left behind a legacy of heroism, professionalism, and combat success. He was one of the first combat controllers to operate in an urban environment, and his experience helped shape the tactics and techniques of special tactics in future missions. He was also an inspiration and a mentor to many of his fellow Airmen, who admired his courage and competence.
Jeffrey Bray was a remarkable Airman who made a difference in one of the most challenging and complex battles in U.S. history. He will always be remembered and honored by those who knew and served with him.