Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
The names and legacies of men like Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon have been etched into the history of modern warfare. Before we knew of the bravery of Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle and Army Ranger Nicolas "The Reaper" Irving, two Special Operations snipers heroically fought, and died during the battle of Mogadishu protecting a fellow American.
On October 3rd, 1993, Gary Gordon was the Sniper Team Leader during Operation Gothic Serpent, which became known as the Battle of Mogadishu. The mission that fateful day was to apprehend key advisors to Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. One of the Army's Black Hawk helicopters, call sign Super Six One, was shot and crashed into the city. A CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) team was dispatched to secure the crash site.
A short time later helicopter call sign Super Six Four was also shot down over the city. The Army Rangers on the ground were already engaged in brutal fighting and were unable to reach the second crash site.
Gary Gordon and his Delta Force sniper element, which included Randy Shughart and Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings, were providing sniper cover from the circling helicopters. These rescuers wanted to be dropped at the second crash site despite the large number of hostile Somalis converging on the area in order to protect the four critically wounded helicopter crew members.
The mission commanders denied the snipers request to be inserted, determining that it was too dangerous. Gary Gordon argued that the crew had no chance of survival on their own because they were wounded and heavily outnumbered. The mission commander was weighing his options.
"One or two properly armed, well-trained soldiers could hold off an undisciplined mob indefinitely; Shughart and Gordon knew this. They were experts at killing and staying alive. They were serious, career soldiers, trained to get hard, ugly things done. They saw opportunity where others could see only danger. Like the other operators, they prided themselves on staying cool and effective in extreme danger. They trained endlessly for moments like this - if there was a chance to succeed, these two believed they would."
Shortly before Gordon and Shugart arrived, Super Six Four pilot Mike Durant woke up inside his seat and took in the damage. A short while later Gordan and Shugart showed up bringing an enormous feeling of relief over Durant - he thought it was over and the rescue force had arrived.
Shughart and Gordon were calm. There was gunfire. The snipers lifted Durant out of the craft and set him down by a tree. Durant was positioned to cover the whole right side of the aircraft. He could hear more and more shooting now. It still hadn’t occurred to him these two were it, and that there was no rescue team.
The still circling Super Six Two watched the angry mob grow larger. Shughart and Gordon had set themselves and the chopper crew in a defensive perimeter around the downed bird. They were dug in awaiting help. Durant admired the way the Delta guys had positioned him. He knew Ray Frank, his copilot, was hurt but alive. There were the two snipers and his crew chief, Tommy Fields. He wondered if Tommy was okay. He figured there were at least four men on the other side of the bird and probably more from the rescue team. Then he heard one of the operators— it was Gary Gordon— cry out that he was hit. Just a quick shout of anger and pain. He didn’t hear the voice again.
The other— Randy Shughart—came back to Durant’s side of the bird. “Are there weapons on board?” he asked. There were - the crew chiefs carried M-16s. Durant told him where they were kept, and Shughart rummaged around, returning with both. He handed Gordon’s weapon, a loaded CAR-15, to Durant. “What’s the support frequency on the survival radio?” Shughart asked. It was then, for the first time, that Durant realized they were stranded. The pilot felt a twist of alarm in his gut. If Shughart was asking how to set up communications, it meant he and the other guy had come in on their own. They were the rescue team. And Gordon had just been shot!
Durant explained standard procedure on the survival radio to Shughart. There was a channel Bravo. He listened while Shughart called out, “We need some help down here.” The radio replied that a reaction force was en route. Then Shughart wished him luck, took the weapons, and moved back around to the other side of the helicopter.
A man tried to climb over the wall and Durant shot him. Another came crawling from around the corner with a weapon and Durant shot him. Then came a mad fusillade on the other side of the helicopter that lasted for about two minutes. Over the din he heard Shughart cry out in pain. Then it stopped. Durant's life was flashing before his eyes as the angry mob overran his position. Mike Durant was taken hostage and held in captivity for 11 days before being released.
For their heroic actions on October 3rd, 1993 Master Sergeant Gordon,and Sergeant First Class Randall Shugart were posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty while serving on sniper element with the United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. RIP warriors.