Profile Photo
George R Blair Jr
80 articles

Mogadishu, Somalia 1992: Operation Restore Hope

August 10, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 11 · 2.4K

I was just looking at a great build by Ramon Lomeli of an AH-6J from Operation Gothic Serpent in in 1993 ( It really brought back some memories. I spent several months in in 1992 in support of Operation Restore Hope. At the time, I was a planner with a unit that would go to major operations and provide command and control for airlift operations. We arrived in Mogadishu the day after the airport was made secure and then set up operations in what was left of the American Embassy, located about 6 kilometers from the airfield. The Army, Marines, Canadians, the CIA, and a bunch of other units all had their headquarters at the embassy. We spent several months there living in tents, dodging snipers, snakes, and hand grenades. After my time there I decided to retire. The attached pictures show the airlift ops, some of the armor there, some pics of the embassy and airport, some remnants of the Somali Air Force, some R & R in Kenya, and even a picture of George HW Bush when he visited. I hope they give you some ideas for models.

Reader reactions:
4  Awesome

25 additional images. Click to enlarge.

11 responses

  1. George, your photos bring back strong memories for me as well. I spent two months at Mogadishu airport flying support as an Army C-12 pilot. Our detachment flew white C-12's with grey "United States of America" logos on the fuselage. As one of the numerous military fixed-wing assets in country, our detachment worked for the Air Force. We flew to many remote, dirt strips in Somalia, mostly carrying personnel. We actually lived with the Air Force engineers, which meant air-conditioned tents and meals in the Air Force mess hall. Every day as the sun set, we would set up our lawn chairs and wait for the Somali insurgents to try and mortar the airfield. We felt we were getting a personal fireworks show and the rounds always fell way short. It was some real interesting flying, but I have to say I was glad when it was time for me to rotate back to Germany where I was stationed.

  2. Thanks for sharing the photos, and the reminder of the operation.

  3. Scott, I remember your C-12s very well. I worked the night shift, so I had a plenty of time during the day to go to many of the in-country sites, and I remember seeing your C-12s at several places. I was stuck at a desk (folding) instead of flying (I flew for my first 19 years in the AF, this was my first non-flying billet), but I know the flying in Somalia was like the wild west. I also logged some time watching the fireworks, but they made us evac to our sand trenches. Nothing ever came close. Air conditioned tents certainly made our campout more bearable, especially when I had to sleep during the day.

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  4. Interesting "scrapbook", George...appreciate your effort(s). 🙂

  5. This is a very cool collection of pics, and I am humbled and honored to have been the one to inspire this trip back in time for you. I was in basic training isolated from the happenings of the outside world when the Battle of Mogadishu went down, so I really didn't know much about it until way after the fact. I am glad you made it back to the world from that place. Thank you sharing these pics, and also thank for your service Sir!

    • Ramon, if you were in basic training when Somalia was going on you must be a youngster. Somalia was no fun at all, but every time I read or see something about Iraq or Afghanistan I think about our troops going to these places for a year at a time and then repeat several tours there. In comparison, I only had a small taste of what they are doing. Thanks for your service also. Let's see some more of your work in articles, your models are awesome.

  6. Great post George, always great to see the link between models and real memories!

  7. Great photos, George. Thanks for sharing them with us. I missed this, having retired earlier that year. It looks like a ghastly place, but with great beauty there as well. Your "comment" in the one photo of the "talcum powder" sand reminded me of Graf (Grafenwoehr) in Germany - the tank trails had the same type of "sand" and it was deeper than the tops of our combat boots! I'm betting that 50 (plus) years of tanks traversing those roads really ground up the grains of sand, turning them into grains of dust rather than sand as we know it. But it looks as if that sand there is that way naturally.

    This will create some interest and give some ideas to some modelers. Thanks!

    • You didn't miss much by missing this deployment. The sand was horrible & played havoc with our electronics. This was back in the 3.5 inch floppy disk days, and we had to back up all of our disks every other day. The fine sand would get into the disks & destroy them in just a few days. We started backing up all the electronics using paper and much for electronics. You are right about Somalia being a scenic place. Prior to the warlords taking over, it was considered the Riviera of Africa. The people who weren't trying to shoot you were very friendly. The best thing about the whole deployment was the days I spent in Kenya on R & R. It is one of the places I would like to visit again in the future. Attached a photo of my hotel in Mombasa, Kenya and some beach friends.

      2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  8. Fabulous photos George!
    I have an Uncle who spent over a year in Somalia with a company distributing food and supplies to UN personnel all over Somalis.
    They had their base at the port - he had many stories to tell and I think he would agree with you about the friendliness of the people - he also enjoyed his time in Mombassa.
    He had many amazing/crazy/tragic experiences - it was a dangerous place - he treated it as an adventure but it took its toll.
    Thank you George!

    • Thanks, David, for sharing your uncle's story. Was he in the Queen's forces or was he with one of the civilian organizations doing food distribution? I guess we all had similar experiences. Things could go from good to very bad in an instant. I always had what I called a "get away kit" with me wherever I went, which included a knife, a compass, a water pack, and a couple of energy bars. I don't really think it would have helped much if I had to escape and evade, but it allowed me to fool myself into thinking I had a chance if things went to hell. I was never so glad to have 18 year old Marines with M-16s protecting our site. A year is a long time for your uncle to be there and I can imagine it took a toll. I always had trouble understanding why people would shoot at me when I was there to get food to starving people. If your uncle is still around thank him for his efforts.

Leave a Reply