Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Before enlisting in the Army, Randy Shugart spent most of his childhood on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. Shugart would eventually be deployed to Somalia as part of Operation Gothic Serpent. His actions while on a mission there would eventually serve as the inspiration for the book, and later movie, Black Hawk Down.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart was born on August 13th, 1958 in Lincoln, Nebraska but spent his childhood in Pennsylvania working on a dairy farm.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating high school in 1976. He attended Ranger School, Airborne School, and received Special Forces Training before being assigned to Delta Force in 1986.
In 1993, Shughart, as part of Task Force Ranger, was deployed to Somalia for Operation Gothic Serpent. As the Somali Civil War raged and widespread starvation afflicted the civilian population, the United Nations intervened to stabilize the country and provide aid. Task Force Ranger was the U.S. force tasked with capturing Mohamed Farrah Aidad, a Somali warlord responsible for attacks on UN peacekeepers.
On October 3rd, 1993, Shughart was part of a mission to capture Aidid’s lieutenants, and was assigned to provide covering sniper fire from a Blackhawk helicopter. As the operation progressed, two other Blackhawks were shot down by Somali RPG’s. With enemy fighters approaching one of the downed helicopters, Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon requested permission to insert in order to protect the survivors of the crash.
The two snipers fast-roped onto the crash site, and after several failed attempts, finally extracted the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant. Shughart and Gordon defended their position as a hostile militia advanced. When Gordon was killed by enemy fire, Shughart grabbed his rifle and gave it to Durant. Shughart was killed shortly after, and Durant was taken hostage.
Durant was eventually freed and Shughart’s body was recovered. He was buried in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
On May 23rd, 1994, Shughart, along with Gordon, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for protecting the Blackhawk’s crew. The pair were the first to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. Shughart’s other decorations include the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.
In 1997, the U.S. Navy named a cargo ship the USNS Shughart, in his honor.
The events that led to Shughart and Gordon receiving the Medal of Honor were documented in the 1999 book Black Hawk Down and later adapted into a feature film.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our associate producer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.