This Month in NCO History: The Battle of Mogadishu, Oct. 3, 1993
By Richard W. Stewart
Center for Military History
October 3, 2013
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Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart and Master Sgt. Gary Gordon served as Special Forces sniper-team members with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. On Oct. 3, 1993, while subjected to intense fire from automatic weapons and from rocket-propelled grenades, Shughart and Gordon provided precision sniper fire from the lead helicopter during a building assault and at two helicopter crash sites.
While providing critical suppressive fire above the second crash site, Shughart and Gordon learned that ground forces were not available to secure the site where four survivors were immobilized by injuries. Both men unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted, even though they knew that enemy personnel were closing in on the site. Because of enemy ground fire, they were inserted 100 meters south of the crash site.
Equipped with only their sniper rifles and pistols, Shughart and Gordon fought their way through a dense maze of shanties to reach the critically injured crew members. Pulling the pilot and other crew members from the aircraft, they established a perimeter, placing themselves in the most vulnerable position.
Gordon and Shughart were featured on the cover of the Fall 1994 issue of the NCO Journal after they were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in May of that year.
Both men poured out continuous protective fire until their ammunition was depleted. Shughart was fatally wounded. Gordon returned to the wreckage to recover a rifle that had only five rounds of ammunition remaining. He gave this weapon to the pilot with the words, “Good luck.” Armed with only his own pistol, Gordon continued the fight until he, too, was fatally wounded. The pilot was captured ans eventually released by Somali fighters. The other three crew members were killed.
The selfless actions of Shughart and Gordon saved the pilot’s life at the cost of their own. Their heroism was above the call of duty and exemplifies the highest traditions of the military service.
Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Bill Clinton at a White House ceremony in May 1994. Additionally, two conference rooms were named after Shughart and Gordon at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and two U.S. Military Sealift Command ships, the USNS Gordon and USNS Shughart, were named in their honor in 1996 and 1997, respectively.
Dr. Richard W. Stewart is currently the chief historian for the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair, D.C. This article is adapted from the original, which appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Special Warfare, the professional bulletin of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C