Upon appointment to Warrant Officer 1 in November of 1983, he completed the UH-60 Blackhawk Aviators Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company in Seoul, South Korea. By the time he was 24, he had flown over 150 medevac missions in the UH-1 and UH-60. After 18 months, he transitioned to the 101st Aviation Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As a Chief Warrant Officer Two, he attended the instructor pilot course and flew air assault missions in the UH-60. Durant joined the newly formed 160th Special Operations Aviation 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; and Operation Desert Storm, where he was the first helicopter pilot to engage a SCUD missile launcher.
During Operation Gothic Serpent, Durant was the pilot of Super Six Four, the second MH-60A Black Hawk helicopter to crash during the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. The helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade in the tail which led to its crash about a mile southwest of the operation's target.
Durant and his crew of three Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank, and Tommy Field survived the crash, though they were badly injured. Two Delta Force snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, had been providing suppressive fire from the air at hostile Somalis who were converging on the area. Both volunteered for insertion and fought off the advancing Somalis, killing an undetermined number, until they ran out of ammunition and were overwhelmed and killed, along with Cleveland, Frank, and Field. Both Gordon and Shughart received the Medal of Honor posthumously for this action. The Somalis captured Durant and held him for eleven days before his release. During part of this time he was cared for by Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid's propaganda minister Abdullahi "Firimbi" Hassan.
After being freed, Durant recovered quickly and continued to fly with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Durant retired from the Army in 2001 with more than 3,700 flight hours, over 1,400 of which were flown under night vision goggles. He now offers seminars to military personnel about helicopter maneuvering and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations.
Durant also offers talks about the Somalia raid and the experiences he had in captivity. He personally offered an extensive interview to actor Ron Eldard, who portrayed Durant in the movie Black Hawk Down, which chronicles the events of the raid.
In 2003, Durant published a book titled In the Company of Heroes in which he chronicles his military career and his captivity.
Durant was a member of the Bush-Cheney '04 Veterans Team.
Durant is a member of the McCain '08 Veterans team. In this capacity, he criticized presumed Presidential Democratic candidate Barack Obama for cancelling a planned trip to the American military medical facilities at Landstuhl base in Germany to visit American casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Durant said he thought this was inappropriate for a potential Commander in Chief especially since Durant himself had recovered from his wounds at nearby Ramstein base in Germany.
Durant holds a BS degree in Professional Aeronautics and a MBA degree in Aviation Management from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is now Owner, President and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. a Service Disabled, Veteran Owned Engineering Services company based in Huntsville, Alabama.
Books: Reviews: In the Company of Heroes by Michael Durant with Steven Hartov, Bantam Press, pounds 10.99.(Features)
Jul 19, 2003; Byline: Alan Smith Michael Durant was used to thinking of himself as pretty invincible. As a Special Forces helicopter pilot for...