This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the nearly 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.
By Alexandra Snyder, DoD News
Those who join the military understand that with service comes sacrifice. Sometimes, that sacrifice is time away from your family and friends, sometimes it’s something greater.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart received the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as a sniper team member with Army Special Operations Command in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 3, 1993.
During an assault on a building, Shughart provided precision sniper fire from a helicopter while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. He provided the same coverage at two helicopter crash sites. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Shughart and his team leader, Army Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. They did not hesitate to volunteer to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in.
Their first two requests were denied, but Shughart and Gordon later received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fire at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Shughart and Gordon were inserted 100 meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only a sniper rifle and a pistol and under intense small arms fire from the enemy, they fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Shughart then pulled the helicopter pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter that placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable positions.
Shughart used his long range rifle and sidearm to kill an estimated 25 attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. He continued his protective fire until he ran out of ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Durant’s life.
Gordon was also killed in the battle. He and Shughart received the Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton, May 23, 1994.
According to Durant, “Without a doubt, I owe my life to those two men and their bravery. Those guys came in when they had to know it was a losing battle. If they had not come in, I wouldn’t have survived.”
Their selfless sacrifice was later depicted in a book by Mark Bowden, “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War,” and the movie “Black Hawk Down.”