The film Black Hawk Down–based on Mark Bowden’s excellent book about the deadly standoff between American troops and thousands of Somali civilians in fighters in Mogadishu–opens soon. One of the odd differences between the book and the movie is that for the movie the soldiers were given fictional names.
USA Today, to my knowledge, is the first to suggest that the reason for doing so may have been due to issues beyond creative and legal ones. It turns out that one of the outstanding heroes of the Somalia engagement, Spec. John Stebbins, was court-martialed by the Army and plead guilty to raping and molesting his
teenage 6-year-old daughter. He is currently serving a 30-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., but is appealing the case (USA Today does not say what part of his case he is appealing).
Stebbins received the Silver Star for his incredible act of heroism that day–he was shot several times and had to literally be dragged to safety due to his injuries.
Personally, that sort of story would be more interesting as a movie than simply doing a film of Bowden’s excellent book. Never having been through a war (or any sort of deadly violent personal conflict) it is hard to imagine what someone like Spec. Shawn Nelson has had to deal with. He was an M-60 gunner and Bowden makes it very clear in his book that although Nelson initially tried to shoot selectively at combatants and avoid hitting civilians, as huge throngs of people surged toward him he was forced to fire indiscriminately into the crowd.
Now an exploration of that would make an interesting movie.