DURHAM — Army Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Field of Lisbon was the crew chief of a Black Hawk helicopter that was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993.

He died in the subsequent shootout.

Nearly 23 years later, relatives and friends of the 25-year-old soldier will honor him with the first of what is planned as an annual motorcycle ride.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, AMVETS Post 13 of Durham — across the Androscoggin River from where Field lived — is putting on the SSG Thomas Field Memorial Ride. Proceeds are earmarked to help veterans in need and to create a scholarship for a high school student entering the military.

Darin Baker, finance officer at the Durham post, knew Field when the two attended Lisbon High School.

“Part of me despises how he lost his life, but from what I knew of Tommy, that’s what he wanted to be doing,” Baker said, “but it’s awful.”

Thomas Field was the youngest of Frederick “Popeye” and Kimiko Field’s three sons: James was the oldest and Fred was the middle son.

Staff Sgt. Popeye Field met his wife while he was serving in the Korean conflict.

Thomas’ brother Fred, who lives in Lisbon, said all four soldiers in the helicopter that was shot down in Somalia survived the crash. The crew was picking up fellow soldiers when they were hit by enemy fire.

“They got an abort signal, but it was too late,” Fred Field said. “The helicopter pinwheeled in the air, then did an amazing crash, landing on its wheels. They got beaten up pretty bad, but they were still alive. They fought it out on the ground, but then they ran out of ammunition.”

The soldiers were killed, and Field’s body was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, the capital city.

Fred Field said he appreciates the efforts of the Durham AMVETS, for all veterans.

“It’s an awesome thing to include a memorial of my brother,” he said.

The entry fee for the Thomas Field Memorial Ride, to be submitted the day of the event, is $25. Registration is at 10 a.m., and the ride begins at noon. Riders will return to the AMVETS Hall for food and live music featuring the band Five Shadow. Another band, 95 North, will entertain during a public dance from 8 p.m. to midnight. It’s $10 per person, and BYOB. The event also will feature a silent auction, food and drink, and door prizes.

Baker said ride proceeds might provide a veteran with clothing or electricity or even help find him or her a job. The scholarship in Field’s name will go to a local student.

“We’ll hope to have a scholarship award this coming year,” Baker said. “We’ve raised around $5,000, and we haven’t even signed up the riders yet.”

The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Bruins have donated items for the silent auction. L-A Harley-Davidson of Lewiston and the Lisbon American Legion also are major supporters, Baker said.

“That’s a beautiful thing about veterans,” Baker said. “They’re such a giving group.”

Field recalled when the AMVETS Hall in Durham was heavily damaged from burst pipes, and help came pouring in from The Home Depot and other businesses.

“I came into the AMVETS just before that,” he said. “Our mission statement is to serve our local vets and community. Our community has helped us, and now it’s our turn.”


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