This month we have a duo of BAMFs. These brave men are the Delta Force legends and heroes in the movie Black Hawk Down, the movie based on the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993. Delta Force Operatives SFC Randy Shugart and MSG Gary Gordon saved a Blackhawk pilot’s life during this battle. For voluntarily placing their lives in danger to save another, Congress awarded these two military service members the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The Battle of Mogadishu
The military deployed Delta Force, the 160th SOAR Night Stalkers, and Army Rangers to Somalia to battle the warlords interfering with the United States humanitarian efforts in the area. Insurgents shot down two Black Hawk helicopters during the fight that lasted over 24 hours. Two men illustrated dedication and bravery throughout the fight. Both lost their lives but not before they saved Michael Durant’s life and killed 25-30 rebels.
Saving Michael Durant’s Life
Michael Durant relayed the story in an interview with PBS’s American Valor. He described Mogadishu as a typical town located in a third world country. Economic decay and years of civil war had caused the total self-destruction of Mogadishu.
Durant was the commanding pilot of the lead helicopter carrying Army Rangers. Hordes of angry people shot down Super 6-1, so Durant’s Black Hawk took its place. Then the worst possible thing happened. An RPG struck the right side of the helicopter just under the tail rotor. The Black Hawk fell the remaining 70 feet out of the sky and crashed into the ground.
Shughart and Gordon repeatedly requested to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded men in the helicopter. They would be facing an entire army with reinforcements still hours out. Permission was finally granted after their third request.
Two soldiers armed with only one handgun, sniper rifles, several rifle magazines, and whatever military supplies they had on them dropped in to defend the site of the crash. As Durant lay injured in the cockpit, he knew that he had to defend himself with the only gun he had, his personal weapon. He prepared to face the onslaught alone when Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart showed up at his side. Durant assumed that they were part of a rescue group and that soon they’d be loading him into another aircraft or truck to get out of the area. But he soon realized that they were alone.
Durant said, “So they got me out of the aircraft, laid me on the ground, put my weapon across my chest, and uh, the way I described their actions were professional and deliberate to the point that they looked like they were planning a parking lot. I mean they; they were, they didn’t seem alarmed the situation that we were in. It was just focused on the task, doing what they needed to do to improve our situation, and get through it, get us rescued. Whatever it is they needed to do. Just moments after this, Gary Gordon is shot. I hear Gary say, damn, I’m hit. And what always struck me was the way he said it. I mean it was almost like he nicked himself with a knife. Just very matter-of-factly.”
In fact, Durant knew the wound was mortal when Shughart came around the Black Hawk and gave him Gordon’s weapon. With growing apprehension, Durant knew that these were the only two soldiers he saw, he was out of ammo, and Gordon was down. Randy made a radio call as the Somalis became more violent. Then Shughart moved around the nose of the helicopter to the opposite side, and Durant never saw him again.
As their position was overrun, both men defended it until they ran out of ammo and the insurgents killed them. The Somalis captured Michael Durant but eventually, they released him.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon demonstrated exceptional valor and courage. They went into that fight, knowing that they would likely die. Michael Durant explained that he owes the two men his life. Everyone hopes that they’ll react the same way when faced with a situation like this. However, it takes truly valiant men to jump into the midst of hundreds of insurgents to certain death.