Durant speaks to GOP Women

Published 10:05 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

By Jaine Treadwell

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Durant spoke to the Pike County Republican Women’s Club on Wednesday.

Durant retired from the United States Army in 2001 and founded Pinnacle Solutions, a Huntsville company that provides training, products and support services to aerospace and defense customers. Durant was assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group and later attended flight school at Ft. Rucker. He flew more than 150 medevac missions as part of the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, South Korea, before joining the 101st Aviation Battalion and then the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

During Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia in 1993, Durant’s Blackhawk was shot down and he suffered crushed vertebrae and a broken femur. Durant’s crew – Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank and Tommy Field – were also badly injured in the crash. Two Delta Force snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart volunteered for a ground insertion to help protect the crew and fight advancing Somalis. The snipers ran out of ammunition and the crash site was overrun. Durant was the only survivor. He was captured and held hostage for 11 days.

The raid on Mogadishu became the subject of Ridley Scott’s 2001 war film Blackhawk Down.

“Somalia was awful,” Durant said. “I’m proud of what we did. We were vastly outnumbered, but nobody quit. But, as awful as Somalia was, I continued to serve with the 160th until I retired in 2001.”

Durant said he decided to run for the open U.S. Senate seat because he didn’t like the direction the country was headed.

“I never aspired to be a politician,” Durant said. “I don’t like what I’m seeing. That’s why I’m running.”

Durant went on to say he supported securing the nation’s border with Mexico as well as taking a strong look at social programs the government were funding that didn’t work. He said it was also vital that the U.S. continue to have a strong military. He said continuous military funding was critical to the nation’s defensive capability. He also said the U.S. needed to have a stronger international presence.

He pointed to the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan as an example.

“[President Joe] Biden threw away everything we had accomplished since 9-11,” Durant said. “He withdrew from Afghanistan so he could say he ended the longest war in U.S. history before the 20th anniversary of 9-11. It had been a successful military operation. Afghanistan could have been like South Korea. I have no illusions that it would have been as strong as South Korea, but we could have helped Afghanistan. We’ll see terrorism return unchecked in Afghanistan. We also don’t have a strategic presence in [the region] with China and Iran. We threw it all away. We had terrorists in check in Afghanistan and we threw it all away because stupid, career politicians are running the show.”

ABOUT MIKE DURANT

On October 3rd, 1993, during combat Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu Somalia, “Super Six Four,” the Blackhawk helicopter flown by Mike Durant, was hit by an RPG and crashed in the city.

Mike and and his crew, Ray Frank, Bill Cleveland, and Tommy Field, all badly injured, fought for their lives as a violent mob approached. Witnessing what was about to happen from above, two members of the elite Special Operations unit Delta Force – MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart – volunteered to be inserted to defend them. They too were eventually overcome by the mob.

But Mike Durant, somehow survived, was captured and held as a POW by Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

The heroic actions of Gordon and Shughart – who were both posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor – are the reason Mike is alive today. Mike has seen sacrifice – fellow service members who put honor, country, and mission above all else. He knows firsthand that the United States leaves no one behind.

While in captivity, Mike heard the voice and promise of Dan Jollota broadcast from the sky:

“Mike Durant, we will not leave without you.”

Now, Mike is signing up for one more tour of duty to serve his country and Alabama in the United States Senate.

He’s watched as the Biden administration has deserted these core principles – abandoning our allies, along with American citizens, in Afghanistan; cowering to the influence of the Chinese as they evade responsibility for the Wuhan Virus; and letting the radical left open our borders and try and re-define the essence of what America stands for through misguided and distorted revisions of our history like “critical race theory”.

Mike believes that President Trump was the first President in his lifetime who always pushed for policies that put America first. That’s because he knows that America is more than just a country – it is a beacon of hope and freedom for the entire world.

President Trump knew it, Mike Durant lived it. And he will carry that vision forward in the U.S. Senate.

Mike Durant was released from captivity in Somalia after 11 days. He would later write a book titled In the Company of Heroes, about his experience on that mission in Somalia and the many other missions he participated in during his career. He also wrote The Night Stalkers, about the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in which he served.

After retiring from the Army with 22 years of active-duty service, Mike moved to Alabama with his family to start a new chapter in his life. He started and grew a highly successful business – Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering and services company based in Huntsville.

In thirteen years, Pinnacle has grown from a home office-based startup to over 500 employees and more than 175 subcontractor personnel operating in sixteen US and international locations with major prime and subcontract efforts supporting the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, NASA and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics and a Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Mike’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star with Valor device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, one with Valor device, the POW/MIA ribbon, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and numerous other awards.

He and his wife Lisa (also an Army Aviator) reside in Huntsville and have a family of six children, four boys and two girls, three grandchildren and a fourth on the way.