A US Army Sergeant -who was killed during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993- is finally getting a school named after him- and even decades later, his Ranger buddies are working to make sure his uniform is ready to go.
Sergeant Dominick “Michael” Pilla was the first man killed during the October 3rd raid that would later set the stage for the book and film Black Hawk Down, shot through the head while simultaneously killing a Somali combatant who was engaging him and a fellow comrade. Pilla is reported to have died instantly.
By the next day, Pilla would be joined by 17 other US Soldiers killed during the engagement, which would go down in American history as a “successful failure” that highlighted the lengths that US servicemen would go to ensure no man was left behind on a foreign field of battle.
However, even back in the 1990s, not everyone was terribly reverent when it came to the deaths of personnel.
“Most people don’t know this, but after my brother was killed, and his belongings were sent home to us, the movers stole half of his things,” Jennifer Pilla, Sergeant Pilla’s sister, wrote on Facebook Monday evening. “We never received his uniforms, camera, etc.”
In light of a new decision for a middle school in Vineland, New Jersey, to bear Pilla’s name, a curious predicament arose from the theft that took place long ago- Pilla’s dress uniform would need to be recreated in order to create a portrait of him for display in the school.
Just as they refused to abandon him in the heat of battle, Pilla’s Ranger brethren have once again stepped in to ensure the sergeant gets the respect and attention to detail that he deserves.
The effort, lead by Kevin Matthews, was made public by Pilla’s sister.
“In the last two weeks, some of Dom’s brothers from the battalion have been busting their asses to recreate his uniform jacket so that the artist can paint his portrait for the school dedication,” she wrote.
In 2018, the State of New Jersey declared that October 3 would henceforth be known as “Sergeant Dominick Pilla and Corporal Jamie Smith Day,” with the latter being a casualty that took place later in the engagement.
Only twenty-one at the time he was killed, Pilla was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge and other decorations for his heroism on October 3, 1993.
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