Shughart and Gordon

‘I will not fail those with whom I serve.’

On October 3, 1993 members of the elite US Army rangers and SOCOM’s Delta Force executed a mission to attempt the capture of Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid. The opposition was much larger and better organized then originally thought and the mission began to take a turn for the worse. In the ensuing battle two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were shot down. As the second Blackhawk, containing Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, was hit and crashed, Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart, were in a nearby Blackhawk monitoring radio traffic. Gordon and Shughart were a sniper team for Delta Force and were assigned to over watch the operation, engaging targets from the Blackhawk. As they monitored the downing of the 2nd Blackhawk it was evident that ground forces would not be available anytime soon to secure the crash site and protect the crew of four, whom all survived the crash. Gordon, the sniper team leader, requested they be inserted at the 2nd crash site. His request was denied twice before finally being approved on the third request. The initial insertion attempt failed and they had to insert about 100 meters away from the crash site. They were only armed with their sniper rifles and pistols.

Upon reaching the downed Blackhawk, which was under intense fire, Gordon and Shughart pulled the crew from the wreckage and proceeded to setup a defensive parameter. The sniper team began to engage, the attacking Somalis from the opposite side of the wreckage. Shugart was the first one to be mortally wounded at about the same time he ran out of ammo. At the same time, Gordon returned to Durant and calmly asked if there were more weapons (he was out of ammo) and then retrieved some from the down Blackhawk, and began to reengage the attackers. Again, out of ammo, he was only able to retrieve one weapon and five rounds, which he gave to Durant and said “Good Luck”. He then drew his pistol and held off the attackers as long as possible, eventually being mortally wounded.

Concerning Shughart and Gordan, Durant made the comment “Without a doubt, I owe my life to these two men and their bravery…Those guys came in when they had to know it was a losing battle, There was nobody else left to back them up. If they had not come in, I wouldn’t have survived.” For their bravery and actions beyond the call of duty, the United States government awarded both Shugart and Gordon the Medal of Honor, the only snipers to have ever received the MOH. The events of this mission have been well documented in the book Blackhawk Down, and the movie of the same title that was based on the book. In 1996 the US Navy named two ships after Shughart and Gordon in honor of their heroic actions. At Ft. Polk’s JRTC, the largest town inside of “The Box” is named “Shughart-Gordon”.


 

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Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon

Citation Reads: Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: —– Born: Lincoln, Maine. Citation: Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Master Sergeant Gordon’s sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew’s weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, “good luck.” Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life. Master Sergeant Gordon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon, his unit and the United States Army.

 


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Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart

Citation Reads: Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: —– Born: Newville, Pennsylvania. Citation: Sergeant First Class Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life. Sergeant First Class Shughart’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.