(WASHINGTON) — It was supposed to be a tribute to the American soldiers who fought and died for their country 20 years ago in Somalia during the infamous “Black Hawk Down” operation. But outside of a quiet gathering of veterans of that deadly incident, the public has not been able to see the Army’s brand-new “Battle of Mogadishu” exhibit, which was scheduled to open on Friday at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in North Carolina, thanks to the ongoing government shutdown.
Despite the notable anniversary, the museum, like so many other government buildings, is closed until further notice as part of the nationwide federal shutdown, according to a notice posted on the museum foundation’s website.
The museum planned to make a small exception to host a gathering of Black Hawk Down veterans as well as their friends and family, according to an attendee. But it’s unclear when the general public will be allowed to get a fresh look at what those men fought so hard for.
“We are disappointed that the hard work and the accomplishment of the Army staff in the building of this exhibit… We’re just disappointed that we’re closed,” said Paul Galloway, the executive director of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation, which supports the Army’s museum. “We’re looking forward to the time that we’re open to the public so they can see the exhibit. This exhibit is going to be worth seeing.”
The Oct. 3, 1993 mission was to “snatch” two top lieutenants of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid from a building in Mogadishu – the center of violence in war-torn Somalia populated by countless armed civilians and militia members. The mission, though ultimately successful, went awry when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down over the city and American troops were pinned down in several attempted rescues. With gunfire crackling around them almost non-stop, the dozens of soldiers stayed in the city overnight until reinforcements arrived on Oct. 4. In the end, 18 American soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded.
An Army spokesperson declined to comment on the museum’s closing.
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