This is a post from my blog section “Profiles of True Heroes – Military and Law Enforcement”. I love to go cycling. As I started getting serious about it, I decided to name my routes after people – and who better to dedicate my routes to than the heroes in military and law enforcement?
After completing a route, I would select a hero I had heard about and then write about them. There are three types of people in this post: some gave their service for America and served in the armed forces. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And some protected the local community and died in the line of duty.
After their story, I included information about the route I dedicated to these heroes. I hope you can learn more about them and gain an understanding of what they have done for us.
US Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart and Mstr. Sgt. Gary I. Gordon, Somalia Conflict – Snipers, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D) – Delta Force
This is the first post of this section that I have included two service members. Because Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon’s acts of valor are so closely related, I decided to include them together. Now, sit back and read of the incredible bravery of these two heroes.
Randy Shughart was born on August 13, 1958 in Lincoln, Nebraska, into an Air Force family. After his father left the Air Force, the family relocated to Newville, Pennsylvania, to live and operate a dairy farm.
Shughart joined the US Army after graduating from Big Spring High School in Newville, PA in 1976. After basic training, he completed Ranger indoctrination school and in 1978 was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis, Washington.
In June 1980, Shughart left active duty and went into the Army Reserve. In December 1983, he returned to active duty and the following year attended Special Forces training. He was assigned to “Delta Force” and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 1986. As a Delta Force operator, he advanced to Assistant Team Sergeant.
Gary Gordon was born on August 30, 1960 in Lincoln, Maine and graduated from Mattanawcook Academy in 1978. He joined the US Army the year when he was 18 and after serving with the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group he was selected to join the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), or “Delta Force”, as a sniper. Before deploying with his unit to Somalia, he married his wife Carmen and together they had two children.
Shughart and Gordon were deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia with other Delta members and Army Rangers in the summer of 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger. On October 3, 1993, Gordon was the Sniper Team Leader during Operation Gothic Serpent, a joint-force assault mission to capture important aids to the Somali militant Mohamed Farrah Aidid. During the mission, Super Six-One, one of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters that provided insertion and air support to the special forces teams, was shot down and crash landed in the city. A Combat Search and Rescue team was then called to the first crash site to secure it and extract any survivors. A little while afterwards, Super Six-Four was shot down. Army Ranger forces on the ground were powerless to help with the crew of Super Six-Four because they were already involved in a heavy fire-fight with Aidid’s insurgents as they slowly fought their way to the first crash site of Super Six-One.
Gordon and his Delta Force sniper operators (Sergeant 1st Class Randy Shughart and Sergeant 1st Class Brad Hallings), who were providing sniper protection from the air, asked to be inserted at the second crash site of Super Six-Four to secure the four severely injured crew members, disregarding the fact that many armed unfriendlies were gathering around the area. Mission commanders declined Gordon’s petition, explaining that the scene was already too hazardous for the three Delta snipers to efficiently cover the Blackhawk crew from the ground. Command’s opinion was that the snipers could be more effective in the air. However, Gordon pressed his position that it was highly unlikely that crew of Super Six-Four could outlast the ambush alone and restated his desire two more times. Command finely gave him the go-ahead. The plan was for Hallings to man the mini-gun and for Shughart and Gordon to insert on the ground.
With boots on the ground, Gordon and Shughart, equipped only with their rifles and sidearms, made their way to the crash site. By this time, more militia had reached the downed helicopter with a determination to either kill or capture all the Americans. When they reached the downed Black Hawk, Gordon and Shughart removed the pilot and only survivor, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant and the other crew members and took up protective positions around the helicopter. Regardless of imposing numerous fatalities on the Somali militants, the Delta snipers knew they were too outnumbered and outgunned. With their ammo almost gone, Gordon and Shughart were eventually overpowered and killed by the Somali barrage. Gordon is thought to be killed first. His partner, Shughart, recovered Gordon’s CAR-15 so Durant could continue firing. Shortly afterwards, Shughart was also killed. Durant stayed in the fight and was eventually taken prisoner. Although Gordon and Shughart were gunned down, they inflicted a heavy blow to their enemy. In the aftermath of the gun-fight, there were 25 fatalities and many more critically injured.
On May 23, 1994, both Gordon and Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton in acknowledgment of their conduct and the sacrifices they made to assist in protecting the life of Durant and the crew of Super Six Four. They were the first Medal of Honor recipients since the Vietnam War. Mike Durant was held by militants for 11 days before being released.
The US Navy officially named two roll-on/roll-off ships, USNS Shughart and the USNS Gordon, after these fallen heroes. The Shughart was commissioned in San Diego, California and the Gordon was commissioned in Newport News, Virginia.
Randall David Shughart was laid to rest in Westminster Cemetery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania and Gary Ivan Gordon is buried in his hometown of Lincoln Cemetery, Penobscot County, Maine.
In 2001, the Hollywood movie “Black Hawk Down” was filmed that depicts the tragedies and victory of Operation Gothic Serpent. Gary Gordon is portrayed by Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Shughart is played by US actor Johnny Strong.
Distance: 26 miles
Duration: 2 hours, 57 minutes
Average Pace: 12.8 mph
This was a route I was going to take yesterday with my friend Merlin. However, it didn’t happen because it was so windy – today was no different! This is the most northern route I have taken so far. I parked at the Twin Lakes Park on 70th and Broadway and headed out. First, I headed west on the Clear Creek trail until I hit construction. Turning around, I went back where I had come from and continued on the Clear Creek trail. I rode past where I had stopped during my route last week and went north on the Platte River trail. I rode this trail as far north as I could and rested at the Elaine Valente Open Space Park in Henderson. This was a very windy route. On the way there, I was riding against the wind and thankfully the wind pushed me all the way back! Great route and I’d do it again in a heartbeat! I am also honored to dedicate this route to two heroes: Randal Shughart and Gary Gordon. May their sacrifices never be forgotten!