Fort Johnson pays homage to Soldiers who made ultimate sacrifice

By Angie ThorneOctober 11, 2023

Fort Johnson pays homage to Soldiers who made ultimate sacrifice
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Matthew J. Hardman (left), Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group commander, salutes the images of Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart and Master Sgt. Gary Gordon at the 30th anniversary commemoration ceremony held Oct. 3. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Johnson pays homage to Soldiers who made ultimate sacrifice
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Operations Group Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall was the guest speaker at the 30th anniversary commemoration ceremony held Oct. 3. (Photo Credit: Angie Thorne) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JOHNSON, La. — On the morning of Oct. 3, the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson commemorated the 30th anniversary of the actions of Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart.

The ceremony was held at the military operations on urbanized terrain site, located in the Fullerton Training Area, named for the sergeants who died in Mogadishu, Somalia, during Operation Restore Hope. The Shughart-Gordon MOUT site was completed in 1996.

These brave men were killed during a firefight Oct. 3, 1993, while heroically trying to rescue other Soldiers who had been cut off from their unit and were under enemy fire. Both Soldiers were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor — the United States highest award for military valor in action and a medal that stands for bravery, courage, sacrifice and integrity.

Col. Matthew J. Hardman, Joint Readiness Training Center’s Operations Group commander, welcomed those in attendance on a day he said was profound for his generation.

“The sacrifices made by these two American heroes etch into us an expectation of excellence, professionalism, courage and sacrifice. Operations Group is honored to be the custodians of this hallowed ground. We have been given a sacred trust, not just to memorialize these two men, but to honor their memory through the hard training that we conduct here every single month,” Hardman said.

He then introduced the guest speaker, Operations Group Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall.

“I feel it is incredibly fitting that a noncommissioned officer deliver the remarks that honor these two great heroes and remind us of our responsibilities to our Army, teammates and nation,” Hardman said.

Hall began by praising the two warfighters as they distinguished themselves by actions above and beyond the call of duty that fateful Oct. 3. He told their story.

Shughart and Gordon, while serving as a sniper team providing precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault at two helicopter crash sites, were subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. When they learned ground forces were not immediately available to secure the helicopter crash site, they unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect four critically wounded Soldiers. They were denied twice. Despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy forces closing in on the site, they asked a third time and were granted permission. They were inserted 100 meters south of the crash site. They each had their sniper rifle and a pistol. They fought their way through a maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured Soldiers.

They pulled the pilot and injured Soldiers to one location and created a perimeter. Both used their rifles and sidearm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until each had depleted their ammunition. Despite the fact they were injured and their ammunition was exhausted, they continued to try to defend the Soldiers. Shughart was the first to be fatally wounded. Gordon continued to fight until he too was fatally wounded. Their actions saved the pilot’s life.

“Their extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon themselves, their team, the United States Army and our country,” Hill said.

Shughart and Gordan lived and breathed each day with a sense of pride in their country and embraced the privilege of leadership.

“They set aside ego and sought to place the needs of fellow Soldiers first to accomplish the mission at all costs,” Hill said. “It’s our choices that matter in the end, not wishes, words or promises. Shughart and Gordon chose selfless devotion because they were ultimately more committed to the needs and wishes of their fellow teammates than that of their own.”