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Gary GordonGary Gordon

Born: August 30, 1960
Lincoln, Maine

War: Somalia

Rank: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army (Sniper Team Leader)

Location of action: Mogadishu, Somalia

Date of action: October 3, 1993

Medal received from: President Bill Clinton, May 1994 (posthumously)

Official Citation:
Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on October 3, 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Master Sergeant Gordon's sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site.

After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position.

Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew's weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, "good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Master Sergeant Gordon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon, his unit and the United States Army.

Of Note:
Before being assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, MSG Gordon served with the 2nd Battalion, 10th SFG(A) at Fort Devens, MA.

Awards include:
The Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal (2)
Good Conduct Medal (4)

Gordon was also authorized to wear the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Airborne wings, Ranger tab, Special Forces tab, French Army Mountaineering Badge, the Royal Danish Parachutist Badge and the joint Meritorious Unit Award.

The US Navy named Roll-on/Roll-off cargo ship USNS Gordon after Gary Gordon in July, 1996.

"Without a doubt, I owe my life to these two men and their bravery," said Mike Durant, whose life was saved by the actions of MSG Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart. "Those guys came in when they had to know it was a losing battle," Durant said of the two men. "There was nobody else left to back them up. If they had not come in, I wouldn't have survived."

Read an except from an interview with Michael Durant.

Watch a video clip of this story.

©2003 GWETA