This is story about two Delta Force members and their act of valor, for which they received Medal of Honor and entered Hall of Fame of bravest American soldiers in history. Gary I. Gordon and David Shughart were snipers in 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force), elite unit of United States Army. During Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993, they sacrificed their own lives to protect four critically wounded downed helicopter crew members. They did that despite the fact that large numbers of armed, hostile Somalis militia were converging on the area.
Mission commanders denied their request to go there and protect the site of the downed helicopter until reinforcements arrive. Mission commander said that the situation was already too dangerous for the Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground… But, they insisted!
Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon
Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon was born on August 30, 1960 and died on October 3, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. He is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. At the time of his death, he was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army’s premiere special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), also known as Delta Force. Together with Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic actions he performed during the Operation Gothic Serpent (Battle of Mogadishu) in October 1993.
Gary I. Gordon was born in Lincoln, Maine and graduated from Mattanawcook Academy in 1978. He enlisted in the U.S. Army same year at age 18 and after serving with the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group he was chosen to join the 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force), as a sniper. Before deploying with his unit to Somalia he married his wife Carmen and together they had two children.
Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart
Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart was born on August 13, 1958 and died on October 3, 1993. He was a soldier in the United States Army special operations unit, the 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force). Randall D. Shughart posthumously received the Medal of Honor together with Gary I. Gordon for their heroic actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993.
Randy Shughart was born in Lincoln, Nebraska into an Air Force family. After his father, Herbert Shughart, left the Air Force, the Shughart’s moved to Newville, Pennsylvania to live and work on a dairy farm. He joined the Army while attending Big Spring High School in Newville, entering upon graduation in 1976. After completing basic training course, Shughart successfully completed AIT (advanced individual training), Airborne School, and in 1978 was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis, Washington. Several months later he completed a pre-ranger course (currently known as SURT, Small Unit Ranger Tactics), was granted a slot to attend Ranger School, graduated, and earned the Ranger Tab. Shughart left active duty and went into the Army Reserve in June 1980. In December 1983, Shughart returned to active duty and the following year attended Special Forces training. Shughart was assigned to 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force) and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 1986.
Shughart was deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger operations.
Combat and death in Somalia
On October 3, 1993 Gary Gordon was Sniper Team Leader during Operation Gothic Serpent (later become known as Battle of Mogadishu), a joint-force assault mission to apprehend key advisers to Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and warlord himself if possible. During the assault one of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters providing insertion and air support to the assault team, was shot down and crashed in the city. Helicopter with call sign Super Six One. A CSRT (Combat Search and Rescue team) was dispatched to the first crash site to secure it and a short time later, another Black Hawk, Super Six Four was shot down as well. Available Ranger forces on the ground were not able to assist the downed helicopter crew of the second crash site as they were already engaged in heavy combat with Somali’s militia and making their way to the first crash site.
Gary Gordon and his Delta Force sniper teammates Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings, who were providing sniper cover from the air, wanted to be dropped at the second crash site in order to protect the four critically wounded crew, despite the fact that large numbers of armed, hostile Somalis were converging on the area.
Mission commanders denied their request, in fact, they said that the situation was already too dangerous for the three Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground because they were outnumbered by overwhelming Somali militias. The Command’s position was that three of them could be of more assistance by continuing to provide air cover.
Gary Gordon, however, concluded that there was no way the downed Black Hawk crew could survive on their own because they were outnumbered and critically wounded. He keeps repeating his request twice until he finally received permission to engage. Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings had assumed control of a minigun after a crew chief was injured and was not inserted with Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon.
Once on the ground, they were armed with only their personal weapons and sidearms. Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon fought their way to the downed Blackhawk. By this time more Somali militiamen were arriving who were intent on either capturing or killing the American servicemen. When they reached site of downed Super Six Four, Gordon and Shughart extracted the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant and the other crew members from the aircraft, and established defensive perimeter around the crash site. Despite having inflicted heavy casualties against the Somalis, the two Delta snipers were too outnumbered and outgunned. Their ammunition nearly depleted, Gordon and Shughart were killed by Somali militias gunfire. Later investigation and reconstruction concluded that Gordon was first to be killed. His teammate Randy Shughart retrieved Gordon’s CAR-15 and gave it to Michael Durant to use. Shortly after, Randy Shughart was killed and Durant was taken alive. Immediately after the battle, the Somalis counted at least 25 of their own men dead with many more severely wounded.
Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart were the only soldiers participating in Operation Gothic Serpent (Battle of Mogadishu) to receive the military’s highest honor, and the first Medal of Honor recipients since the Vietnam War.
The Gary I. Gordon and Randall D. Shughart were true warriors and finest American heroes. They become legends.