Medal Monday: Memorial Day
May 28, 2018
Organization: U.S. Army
Conflict: Somalia Campaign
Date of Action: 10/03/1993
Medals Presented By: President Bill Clinton
This Memorial Day, we ask that you take a moment to honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our Armed Forces. There are many stories of sacrifice worth remembering today, and the following tells the true account of Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart who wouldn’t give up on a mission to rescue fellow soldiers trapped in Somalia.
On October 3, 1993, during an operation that put160 special operations soldiers – arriving in 19 helicopters and 12 vehicles – against 3,000 Aidid men, two of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters were shot down.
Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart learned that one of the helicopter crash sites was unprotected and volunteered to rescue the four critically-wounded personnel trapped at the site. They were denied permission twice due to safety risks. Their third request to go in as volunteers, the only chance to save the crew, was approved with the warning from their Army master sergeant that they would likely die in the attempt.
After having to abandon the first rescue attempt due to enemy ground fires, Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart went 100 meters south of the crash site.
Armed with only their sniper rifles and pistols, Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the injured crew. They pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft and established a protective perimeter around the crew, which placed Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart in the most vulnerable positions where they defended the wounded crew until their ammunition levels were critically low and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart was fatally injured.
Master Sgt. Gordon returned to the helicopter wreckage to look for more weapons and ammunition, and he recovered a rifle with the last five rounds intact. Although he was running low on ammunition himself, he gave the rifle to the pilot and said, “Good luck.” Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter and defend the helpless crew, armed only with his pistol, and he defended them until he was fatally injured.
Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shughart’s heroic actions saved the pilot’s life. Their extraordinary bravery and devotion to duty reflect the highest standards of military service, and the National Medal of Honor Museum will be honored to showcase their inspiring story of patriotism and sacrifice in the service of others.
Gary Gordon and Randall Shughart are two of the nearly 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients whose combat valor and civic heroics will be enshrined in the National Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, SC. These heroes deserve a home for their legacy to be shared with the next generations.
As the only military museum to recognize all branches of the armed services, it will highlight the fact that the recipients of our nation’s highest military award not only defended our country, they were instrumental in developing, designing, and enriching it.
The museum will be a vault for the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice and patriotism. It will showcase the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Character Development Program, including living histories of over 100 recipients. It will also house the Citizens Heroes Program honoring ordinary citizens who have epitomized the concept of “service above self”.
Americans will walk out of that museum with the conviction that they too can be a hero, inspired by the values of courage and sacrifice that the Medal of Honor recipients used to excel in combat and in civilian life. Learn more at mohmuseum.org.