ONE OF THE HEROES OF BLACK HAWK DOWN IS A CONVICTED CHILD
The movie Black Hawk Down was one of the biggest box office draws of 2001, and it earned its
director, Ridley Scott, an Oscar nomination. (He didn't win, but the movie got two Academy
Awards for editing and sound.) Based on Mark Bowden's nonfiction book of the same title, it
concerns the disastrous raid of Mogadishu, Somalia, by US elite soldiers in 1993.
One of these Special Forces soldiers underwent a name-change as he moved from the printed
page to the big screen. Ranger John "Stebby" Stebbins became Ranger Danny Grimes when
played by Scottish heartthrob Ewan McGregor. Why? Because in 2000, Stebbins was courtmartialed
and sent to the stockade for rape and sodomy of a child under twelve.
This decidedly unheroic turn of events was confirmed by the Army, the Fort Leavenworth
military prison (Stebby's home for the next 30 years), and Black Hawk Down's author. Bowden
told the New York Post that the Army asked him to change Stebbins' name in the screenplay in
order to avoid embarrassing the military. In an email to the newspaper, Stebby's ex-wife, Nora Stebbins, wrote: "They are going to make
millions off this film in which my ex-husband is portrayed as an All-American hero when the
truth is he is not."