Black Hawk Down
During the first hour of the operation at 16:20, a Black Hawk, operating under the call sign Super 61, was shot down by an enemy RPG. Both pilots, CW4 Clifton Wolcott and CW3 Donovan Briley, were killed, but the crew survived the crash landing. A second Black Hawk, Super 68, was hit after inserting a combat search and rescue team, but the pilot was able to return to base. A third Black Hawk, Super 64, remained to provide cover for the crew of Super 61, until the crew could be rescued, but by some time around 16:40, it too was soon shot down by an enemy RPG.
MSG Gordon, along with SFC Randall Shughart and SFC Brad Hallings remained to provide cover for Super 64 from their Black Hawk, Super 62, until a rescue solution could be found. MSG Gordon requested to be put on the ground, so that he and his teammates could provide better defenses for the crew of Super 64, but was denied permission. Again, MSG Gordon requested to be put on the ground, as they saw a larger crowd advancing on the crew of Super 64, but was again denied because commanders felt it was too dangerous for the Sniper Team. Commanders felt that the Snipers would be more effective from the higher position in the air. MSG Gordon insisted that there was no way for the crew of Super 64 could survive on their own, and on his third request was given permission to be put on the ground.
His Black Hawk came under heavy fire as the pilot tried to insert him close to Super 64, and the crew chief was wounded by enemy fire. SFC Hallings agreed to man the mini-gun and not be put on the ground with MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart. At 16:42, the pilot of Super 62 inserted MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart about 100-meters south of the crash site and while providing cover was struck by an enemy RPG, knocking the co-pilot unconscious and severely wounding SFC Hallings. The pilot was able to fly the crippled Black Hawk to safety.
Once on the ground, MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart, armed with their sniper rifles and handguns, fought their way to Super 64. When they reached the downed helicopter, MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart extracted CW3 Michael Durant, SSG William Cleveland, Jr., CW4 Ray Frank, and SSG Thomas Fields from the Black Hawk. CW3 Durant was badly injured having broken his leg and severely injuring his back. The rest of the men helped secure a defensive position, with MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart taking the most vulnerable positions. Having exhausted their ammunition, MSG Gordon went to the wreckage and collected more weapons and ammunition, providing CW3 Durant with some to defend himself with. MSG Gordon continued to circle the perimeter of the wreckage, protecting the injured crew.
According to both MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart’s Medal of Honor Citations, upon SFC Shughart being mortally wounded and MSG Gordon being depleted of the rest of his ammunition, he went back to the wreckage and grabbed a rifle with just 5 rounds left, gave it to the pilot with the words “good luck,” and continued to engage the enemy with his pistol until he himself was killed.
For their selfless actions, both MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart were posthumously decorated the Medal of Honor on 23 May 1994, by President William Clinton. They were the first Medal of Honor Recipients since the Vietnam War.