A new graphic novel tells the story of the first Medals of Honor awarded since the Vietnam War. Illustration by PJ Holden, composite by Coffee or Die.
A new graphic novel from the Association of the United States Army recounts the selfless actions of Delta Force snipers Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart, who died protecting a wounded Black Hawk pilot during the Battle of Mogadishu.
The new comic is the fourth issue of the fourth volume in the AUSA’s Medal of Honor series. Each issue tells the story of how a different US Army Medal of Honor recipient received the nation’s highest award for valor.
In the fall of 1993, Gordon and Shughart were serving in Somalia as members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta: the US Army’s premier special operations unit. On Oct. 3, a combined force of Delta operators, Army Rangers, pilots from the 160th SOAR, Navy SEALs, Air Force combat controllers and pararescuemen, and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, took part in a raid intended to capture two of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s lieutenants. During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, turning what was supposed to be a relatively quick mission into an 18-hour firefight that ultimately killed 18 American service members.
Shughart and Gordon were killed defending the crew members of Super Six Four. US Army photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When the first Black Hawk was shot down, Rangers on the ground moved to secure the crash site, but when hundreds of militiamen swarmed the area, the Rangers became embattled in heavy urban combat. By the time the second helicopter was shot down, there were no more ground forces available to move quickly to the crash site.
As Somali militiamen closed in on the second downed helicopter, Gordon and Shughart — who were already providing sniper cover from the air — volunteered to be dropped off to defend the crew members. Their request was denied two times because of the growing number of enemy combatants in the area, but on the third attempt, the two operators were granted permission to proceed to the crash site on foot. Knowing full well that there were no additional forces to support them, Gordon and Shughart moved to the downed helicopter alone.
The Battle of Mogadishu was immortalized by the book and film adaptation, Black Hawk Down. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
When the two Delta snipers arrived, they found the helicopter’s pilot, Michael Durant, still alive. They helped the wounded pilot out of the wreckage, then proceeded to engage the growing enemy force. While fighting on the far side of the helicopter, Shughart was shot and killed. Running dangerously low on ammunition, Gordon retrieved an M16 from the helicopter, but he, too, soon succumbed to the heavy enemy fire. Durant was later captured by the militia and held captive for 11 days.
For their selfless sacrifice, Gordon and Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, marking the first time the medal was awarded since the Vietnam War.
The new graphic novel recounts their heroic actions through beautiful artwork rendered by a team of professional artists whose previous work includes Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, Batman, Superman, Black Panther, and The Punisher. The entire graphic novel can be accessed for free on the AUSA’s website.
Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
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