The Mind Blowing Tale of How Two Delta Operators Earned the Medal of Honor in Somalia
Roughly a quarter century ago a pair of US Army Black Hawks were shot down in a country few Americans had ever heard of before by a couple of militiamen and their RPG’s in a city called Mogadishu. Countless stories of bravery and heroism have come from the 24 hours following and one stands out to the point that two of the operators involved were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
August of 1993 Task Force Ranger deployed to Somalia after an IED struck US personnel conducting a humanitarian mission. The task force made up of Rangers from the 75th and The Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment as well as the secretive Delta Force and supporting agencies and quickly went to work.
October 3 1993 Operation Gothic Serpent was launched with TF Ranger handling the show. This operation would be later known as the “Black Hawk Down Incident.” The mission was to be a snatch and grab on a pair of top guys from the Habr Gedir clan headed up by Mohamed Farrah Aided. A real piece of work.
A part of the operation were two seasoned shooters from Delta MSG Gary Gordon who cut his teeth with 10th Special Forces Group and SFC Randy Shughart hailing from the 75th Ranger Regiment before being selected for Delta.
The plan was for the Delta Operators and Rangers were to be inserted by air by a couple of MH-60’s near the target building set up a cordon and snatch the HVT’s. Extract was by Humvees and trucks to Mogadishu airport where TF Ranger called home.
Things went south when Somali gunmen showed up in mass and the gunfight started. Shit really hit the fan when Super 61 one of the Black Hawks was shot down injuring the crew and Delta operators on board as well as killing both pilots.
The pendulum swung once again against TF Ranger when Super 64 a second Black Hawk was shot down 20 minutes later but another Black Hawk was nearby Super 62 and began circling the crash site and laying down fire thanks to MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart.
It was likely due to the operators in the air that some of the crew of the downed Black Hawk had survived the crash and requested insert to secure the site and hold off the mob of Somalis to make sure they did not get their hands on the survivors.
Their request was denied twice as the brass back at the airport felt the fire by air was a better force multiplier than operators on the ground but on the third request they were cleared hot to insert.
Aware of how far any friendly elements were, both operators hopped of the bird while a third laid down fire with the minigun, knowing full well that they may have just taken that leap for the last time, but it didn’t matter to these two. They knew they were the only thing standing between an angry mob and their injured brothers.
While MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart exchanged blows with the enemy on the ground, Super 62 rained down fire from the air until being struck by an RPG and having to return to base. As the two operators on the ground got to the downed bird they found CW3 Mike Durant alive and well and the rest of the crew Ray Frank, Bill Cleveland and Tommie Field holding onto life.
During the fight away from the downed Black Hawk MSG Gordon, SFC Shughart and CW3 Mike Durant all fought viciously and valiantly and hit the mob with heavy casualties as if they were a much larger force as is expected from a group of operators.
While stacking bodies in the defense MSG Gordon was the first to succumb to his wounds during the firefight. SFC Shughart was KIA not long after having depleted most of his rounds into the bodies of the enemy.
CW3 Durant was taken alive as a POW but fought through and returned to fly with the 160th Special Operations Group once again before retiring. Both MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart were both posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1994 for their distinguished actions going above and beyond the call of duty.