Michael Durant

Michael Durant

Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot Shot Down In Somalia; Inspiration for the Movie Black Hawk Down

Travels From: AL, United States.
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About Michael Durant
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Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot Shot Down In Somalia; Inspiration for the Movie Black Hawk Down

Michael J. Durant, CW4 (Retired), USA born July 23, 1961 in Berlin, NH.  He entered the United States Army in August 1979. Following training at the Defense Language Institute, he was assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group, Fort Clayton, Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator.  He was accepted and attended the Warrant Officer Basic Course followed by Primary Flight Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama.  Upon appointment to WO1 in November 1983, he completed the UH60 Blackhawk Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company, Seoul Korea.  His next assignment was with the 101st Aviation Bn, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he performed duties as an instructor pilot. 

            Michael joined the 160th Special Operations Group on August 1, 1988.  Assigned to D company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot.  He participated in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause (Panama invasion December 1989), Desert Storm (Liberation of Kuwait in January-March 1991), and Restore Hope (Somalia in August-October 1993). 

            On October 3, 1993, while piloting an MH60 Blackhawk in Mogadishu, Somalia, he was shot down and held captive by hostile forces.  He was released eleven days later.

            He is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Solutions, Incorporated, a training and simulation company based in Huntsville, Alabama.  He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics and a Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He is a master aviator, qualified in the UH-1 Huey, MH-6 Loach, and MH-60A, L, and K models of the Blackhawk.  He has a total of 3,700 flight hours with over 1,400 under Night Vision Goggles.

            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 is the author of the NY Times Best Seller In the Company of Heroes and the The Night Stalkers.  He and his wife Lisa have six children, four boys and two girls ranging in age from five to twenty-one.   

Areas of Expertise: Military Background, Patriotism, Aviators, Motivation, and Overcoming Obstacles.

Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness, Applying Lessons Learned, and Surviving Adversity

The presentation offers a fast-paced look at U.S. Special Operations. It includes a brief overview of this unique organization and a discussion of the fundamental elements that put the individuals in it at the very top of their game. Emphasis is placed on organizational effectiveness and the role of leaders in taking responsibility for both the short term and long-term success of any organization. In addition to leadership, other key areas of emphasis include providing the proper resources, processes and procedures, training, planning, and continuous assessment at both the organizational and individual level. The U.N. mission in Somalia is used as a case study to highlight how integral each of these areas is to the success of any undertaking. Lessons learned are discussed as well as an overview of which of these lessons can be applied to other organizations. As the sole survivor of the firefight at crash site two during the infamous Blackhawk Down mission, Durant also has the unique first-hand insight into the personal challenges involved in preparing for and surviving the extreme. His personal story of survival highlights the discussion. Following the presentation, the audience is encouraged to participate in an optional question and answer session.

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