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Area vet has personal connection with 'Black Hawk Down' pilot

By KBell
Nov. 15, 2011 at 5:15 a.m.

P.W. Covington, an Air Force veteran who lives in Yoakum, presents his new book, "Vet to Vet," at the Cuero Public Library in November.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Lyceum Lecture featuring Michael Durant

WHERE: VISD Fine Arts Center, 1002 Sam Houston Drive

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

COST: Free

VICTORIA AREA VETERANS SUPPORT SERVICES

For more information on the peer-to-peer outreach program Covington works with, search for "Victoria Area Veterans Support Services" on Facebook.

For Air Force veteran P.W. Covington, Thursday's Lyceum Lecture series is more than a glimpse at the inspiration behind the Oscar-winning film, "Black Hawk Down."

It's a personal reminder of the Somali mission he was a part of in the early 1990s, and a remembrance of Covington's military colleagues who died in the African nation.

Covington, 37, is a Yoakum resident who was one of the first 30 or 40 Americans on the ground in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope in 1992 and 1993. What was supposed to be a relief mission to deliver food to Somalians turned into a deadly combat zone.

Michael Durant, who will speak at the lecture series, was the sole survivor of a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. He was held captive and released 11 days later.

"I guess Warrant Officer Durant kind of became that keystone for that era. It's something that a lot of Americans have completely forgotten about," Covington said.

Covington was based out of the airport in Mogadishu around the time of Durant's crash and Operation Gothic Serpent, which resulted in the death of 18 Americans.

Covington said he waited four or five years after "Black Hawk Down" was released to watch the 2001 movie based on the battle.

He said the movie glosses over details from the Somali mission, for example, by not recognizing the joint military forces at work in the area.

But Covington, an author himself, has seen Durant speak twice and said his lectures capture the resilience of the U.S. military.

"I think that personal connection is great, and it's also an acknowledgment of the Somalian mission," Covington said.

Covington said he hopes the Lyceum Lecture brings more attention to a younger generation of veterans, like those who served in Somalia.

"It's important that the Victoria community know that our young vets, our desert vets, folks who served since 1990, are out there in the community and taking leadership roles in the community," he said.

Covington now serves as a peer facilitator with the Victoria Area Veterans Support Services, which seeks to gather other area veterans to provide support for post-deployment needs of soldiers and their families.

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