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July 1996: U.S. Navy Honors Army NCO

Compiled By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Stadel
NCO Journal

July 18, 2013

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USNS Gordon (U.S. Navy photo)

During a ceremony in July 1996, the United States Navy became part of U.S. Army noncommissioned officer history by paying homage to a decorated U.S. Army NCO.

Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Gary Gordon was honored by the Navy on Independence Day in Newport News, Va., when a Navy roll-on/roll-off ship was christened the USNS Gordon.

During the naming ceremony, Gordon's widow, Carmen, smashed a champagne bottle against the hull of the ship to officially name the vessel after her husband.

"This ship gives us faith that Gary's spirit will go forward," Carmen Gordon said to the more than 6,000 who attended the ceremony. Then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer was among those in attendance.

The USNS Gordon is still in service today.

Gordon, a member of the U.S. Army's elite 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, colloquially know as "Delta Force," was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993.

His actions were famously told in the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War and in the movie Black Hawk Down.

Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart were providing sniper cover to a downed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the air. They requested to be inserted near the downed helicopter to provide ground support to any surviving crew members. Both Gordon and Shughart were killed in action and were each posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Navy also honored Shughart by naming a ship after him.

Some information for this story was taken from the Daily Press article "USNS Gordon Good to Go," written by Daily Press staff writer L.A. Finneran, July 5, 1996.