How AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ Helped Saved a Soldier’s Life
With the 35th anniversary of AC/DC’s Back in Black, we thought we’d write about this story that appeared in the 2012 documentary, Beyond the Thunder. In it, Michael Durant, a former member of the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, tells the story about how hearing its opening cut, “Hells Bells,” gave him hope when he was a prisoner of war.
It took place in October 1993, during the U.S. military raid in Mogadishu, Somalia that was chronicled in the book and movie, Black Hawk Down. Durant’s helicopter, known as the “Super Six-Four” was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and he broke his back and femur in the crash.
“The enemy overruns us,” he says in the video above, “and when they do that they kill everybody. They initially looked like they were going to kill me, but somebody realized I had a value as a live prisoner. In the process I ended up getting my cheekbone broken, my nose broken and my eye socket [broken]. It started out terrifying; am I going to live through the next five seconds?"
At one point, Durant, who was played in the movie by Ron Eldard, heard a helicopter overhead. "When you're in captivity,” he continued, “if you hear an aircraft, it obviously gets your attention because the first thing you’re trying to determine is, ‘Do they know where I am?’’
After picking up on the sound the rotor blades of the helicopter, Durant heard “this ‘bong,’ and then I hear the beginning of ‘Hell's Bells’ start up. It was an incredible moment. They had loudspeakers attached on the side of this Black Hawk and they were flying around the city broadcasting this music, and the hope was that I would hear. Immediately following the song I hear this voice saying, 'Mike, we won't leave here without you.' It's something I'll never forget."
After 11 days in captivity, Durant was freed.
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