Saturday, November 8, 2008

This Week's Hereos: MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart

This week's American heroes are Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall Shugart. These brave heroes died during Operation Gothic Serpent, the mission to apprehend Somali warlord Mohammad Farah Aidid. The book and movie "Black Hawk Down" depicted the ferocious fighting that took the lives of these fine men. The following info is taken from Wikipedia:

Gary Gordon was born in Lincoln, Maine in 1960. He graduated from Mattanawcook Academy in 1978. Gordon joined the service at age 17. While serving in the U.S. Army, Gordon earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger tab and the Special Forces tab. He served with the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group before being chosen to join the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), or "Delta Force" as a sniper.

Randy Shughart was born on August 13, 1958 in Lincoln, Nebraska into an Air Force family. His father, Herbert Shughart, was stationed nearby. The Shughart’s moved to Newville, Pennsylvania after Herb left the Air Force, living on and tending a dairy farm. Randy joined the Army while attending Big Spring High School in Newville, entering upon graduation. After Basic Training, he successfully completed AIT (Advanced Individual Training), Airborne School, and was assigned to the decorated 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry (Airborne), at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 2/75th is now part of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Several months later he completed a pre-ranger course (replaced by the Ranger Indoctrination Program in use today), was granted a slot to attend Ranger School and earned the coveted black and gold Ranger Tab. After leaving the Service and reenlisting again for the rangers, Shughart was later assigned to Delta Force and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

During the assault, Super Six One, one of the Army's Black Hawk helicopters providing insertion and air support to the assault team, was shot down and had crashed in the city. A Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team was dispatched to the first crash site to secure it. Shortly thereafter, Super Six Four was shot down as well. 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 Aidid's militia and making their way to the first crash site.

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, requested 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 Gordon's request, saying that the situation was already too dangerous for the three Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground. Command's position was that the snipers could be of more assistance by continuing to provide air cover. Gordon, however, concluded that there was no way for the Black Hawk crew could survive on their own, and repeated his request twice until he finally received permission. Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings had assumed control of a minigun after a crew chief was injured and was not inserted with Shughart and Gordon.

Once on the ground, Gordon and Shughart, armed with only their personal weapons and sidearms, had to fight their way to the location of the downed Blackhawk. By this time more Somalis were arriving who were intent on either capturing or killing the American servicemen. When they reached 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 positions around the crash.

Despite having inflicted heavy casualties against the Somalis, the two Delta snipers were too outnumbered and outgunned. Their ammunition nearly depleted, Gordon and Shughart finally were killed by Somali gunfire. It is believed that Gordon was first to be fatally wounded. His teammate Shughart retrieved Gordon's CAR-15 assault rifle and gave it to Durant to use. Shortly after, Shughart was killed and Durant was taken alive. Immediately after the battle, the Somalis counted 24 of their own men dead with many more severely wounded who may have died later of their wounds.

Here's the movie clip depicting their heroism:

Take a moment to read their Medal of Honor Citation.

May God bless their souls.

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