Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sergeant First Class Randall 'Randy' David Shughart 1958 – 1993

Sergeant First Class Randall 'Randy' David Shughart (August 13, 1958–October 3, 1993) was a soldier in the United States Army special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), or "Delta Force." Shughart posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993.

Randy Shughart was born on August 13, 1958 in Lincoln, Nebraska into an Air Force family. His father, Herbert Shughart, was stationed nearby. The Shugharts moved to Newville, Pennsylvania after Herb left the Air Force, living on and tending a dairy farm. Randy joined the Army while attending Big Spring High School in Newville, entering upon graduation. After basic training, he successfully completed AIT (advanced individual training), Airborne School, and afterwards was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry (Airborne), at Fort Lewis, Washington. Several months later he completed a pre-ranger course (currently known as RIP, or Ranger Indoctrination Program), was granted a slot to attend Ranger School, graduated, and therefore earned the Ranger Tab. After leaving the service, then again reenlisting into the Rangers, Shughart was later assigned to "Delta Force" and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Shughart was deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia with other Delta members in the summer of 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger. On October 3, 1993 Shughart was Sniper Team Leader during Operation Gothic Serpent, a joint-force assault mission to apprehend key advisers to Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. During the assault, Super Six One, one of the Army's Black Hawk helicopters providing insertion and air support to the assault team, was shot down and had crashed in the city. A Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team was dispatched to the first crash site to secure it. Shortly thereafter, Super Six Four was shot down as well. Ranger forces on the ground were not able to assist the downed helicopter crew of the second crash site as they were already engaged in heavy combat with Aidid's militia and making their way to the first crash site.

Shughart and his Delta sniper teammates Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings had been providing sniper cover from the air. Gary Gordon requested to be inserted on the ground in order to secure the crash site and protect survivors, despite the fact that large numbers of armed, hostile Somalis were converging on the area.

Mission commanders denied Gordon's request twice, saying that the situation was already too dangerous for the three Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground. Command's position was that the snipers could be of more assistance by continuing to provide air cover. Gordon, however, concluded that there was no way the Black Hawk crew could survive on their own, and repeated his request twice until he finally received permission. Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings, who had assumed control of a minigun after a crew chief was injured, remained on the helicopter to provide cover from the air.

Gordon and Shughart were inserted approximately 100m from the crash site, armed with only their sniper rifles and sidearms, and made their way to the location of the downed Blackhawk. Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant was already engaged in defending the downed aircraft with an MP5 but was unable to move from his pilot chair due to a crushed vertebrae in his back and a compound fracture of his left femur. When Gordon and Shughart reached Super Six Four, they extracted Durrant and the other crew members from the aircraft and established defensive positions around the crash.

It is believed that Gordon was first to be shot by the mob, which had surrounded the crash site. His teammate Shughart retrieved Gordon's CAR-15 assault rifle and gave it to Durant to use. Shortly after, Shughart was killed, the site was overrun and Durant was beaten by the mob before being taken hostage. Immediately after the firefight, the Somalis counted 24 of their own men dead with many more severely wounded who may have died later of their wounds.

There was some confusion in the aftermath of the action as to who had been killed first. The official citation states that it was Shughart, but author Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, the best-selling book about the October 1993 events, relates an account by Sergeant Paul Howe, another Delta operator participating in the battle. Howe said that he heard Shughart call for help on the radio and that the weapon handed to Durant was not the distinctive M14 used by Shughart. Furthermore, Howe said that Shughart would never have given his own weapon to another soldier to use while he was still able to fight.

In Durant's book, In the Company of Heroes, he states that Gordon was on the left side of the Blackhawk, after both he and Shughart moved Durant to a safer location, and only heard Gordon say, "Damn, I'm hit." Afterwards Shughart came from the left side of the Blackhawk with the CAR-15.

Shughart is buried in Westminster Cemetery, Carlisle, PA.

Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: ----- Born: Newville, Pennsylvania. Citation: Sergeant First Class Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader 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 their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, 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. Sergeant First Class Shughart 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. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Sergeant First Class Shughart's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.

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