Delta Force Sniper Who Sacrificed His Life In Somalia Memorialized In Hometown

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Master Sergeant Gary Gordon.

Master Sergeant Gary Gordon had a life-long military career. He joined the U.S. Army in 1978 and was trained as a combat engineer. After a post with the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group, he volunteered for and was selected to join the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, better known as Delta Force.

 

While posted in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger, he gave his life to save a fellow comrade. His sacrifice afforded him many well-deserved honors, the latest of which is a memorial in his hometown of Lincoln, Maine.

Memorial dedication

The efforts to produce a permanent memorial for Master Sgt. Gordon were spurred forward by the Special Forces Charitable Trust and the town of Lincoln. After years of work and fundraising, they commissioned the 10-foot-tall bronze statue from sculptor Chad Fisher.

Military portrait of Gary Gordon
Master Sergeant Gary Gordon. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army / Wikimedia Commons)

The sculpture features Master Sgt. Gordon holding a rifle with a scope atop a base engraved with his name. It was unveiled at the Lincoln Veterans Memorial on August 30, 2021 and looks toward his grave at Lincoln Park Street Cemetery. The ceremony was attended by Republican Senator Susan Collins, Gordon’s wife, the pilot he rescued in Somalia and other military members.

“The sculptor captured the essence of who Gary really was,” said Carmen Gordon. “I don’t know if that’s just my personal feeling, but I hope that people will see his humbleness, his strength and his extreme resemblance as to what he really looked like.”

Collage of images from the memorial dedication
Senator Collins at the unveiling ceremony. (Photo Credit: Senator Susan Collins)

“This memorial to Master Sergeant Gordon commemorates a Medal of Honor soldier who fought with exceptional heroism and who gave his life so that his comrades might live,” Sen. Collins said at the ceremony. “It recognizes a special fraternity whose ‘common bond is uncommon valor.’

“The integrity, devotion to duty, and courage that Master Sergeant Gordon demonstrated in Somalia nearly three decades ago were forged right here in Lincoln, in his family and in this community,” she concluded.

Battle of Mogadishu

During the summer of 1993, the civil war in Somalia was causing widespread starvation within the country. When rations delivered by the United Nations were seized by warlords, the U.S. Army sent in its Special Forces operators, including Delta Force soldiers and Army Rangers, to protect the humanitarian efforts and confront the warlords.

Betty Gordon and Lt. Colonel Eric Warner standing beside a plaque with Gary Gordon's image on it.
Master Sgt. Gordon’s mother at the dedication for the Ceremony Room at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Portland, Oregon, 2009. (Photo Credit: Portland Press Harold / Getty Images)

On October 3, 1993, Gordon and his team were sent on a raid to the Somalian capital to capture targets associated with warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. It was meant to be quick, but what ensued was the Battle of Mogadishu.

Two U.S. helicopters were shot down, one of which became isolated from U.S. forces. Gordon asked to help the downed crew of the unprotected helicopter, but was turned down twice. He and Sergeant 1st Class Randy Shughart were given permission to rescue them after a third request.

The pair were lowered to the scene and able to rescue the helicopter’s pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Durant. However, the pair soon found themselves outnumbered by Somalian fighters and were killed by enemy fire.

USNS Gordon at sea
USNS Gordon. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Retired Army Colonel Ron Russel took an opportunity to discuss the pair’s valiant efforts whilst at the ceremony:

“There’s another tenant in the soldier’s creed, the Ranger Creed, and the Special Forces creed that needs to be mentioned. The tenant is: ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’ That means if something goes bad, we will do whatever we can to recover our fallen. Conversely, if you are on the other end of that you know that if something bad is happening to you, your comrades will do everything in their power to come get you, to take you home, so that your families will have closure.”

Gordon and Shughart’s remains were brought back to the United States and laid to rest. For their efforts, both were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, its first recipients since the Vietnam War. Master Sgt. Gordon later had a U.S. Navy vessel named after him, the USNS Gordon.

Iraq Hero Alwyn Cashe To Be Honored At US Military Base

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe.

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division will rename its ceremony area after Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, an Iraq War hero who sacrificed his own life to save the lives of the men around him. The announcement said the Marne Garden outside the division’s headquarters at Fort Stewart will be changed to the Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe Garden in the hero’s honor.

 

Alwyn Cashe is a hero who we have featured before, when his Silver Star was to be upgraded to the United States’ most prestigious award, the Medal of Honor. In October 2005 Cashe was a passenger in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle when it rolled over a hidden improvised explosive device (IED).Cashe’s heroic actions

Cashe’s heroic actions

The Bradley took most of the force of the blast and fire quickly consumed the vehicle after its fuel cell burst. Cashe was immediately covered in fuel but was able to escape out the gunner’s hatch. He then crawled towards the driver’s hatch and pulled him out of the vehicle.

Then 1st Lt. James "Jimmy" Ryan, left, poses with Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe during their deployment to Forward Operating Base McKenzie in Samarra, Iraq.
Photo Credit: Retired Maj. James Ryan / U.S. Army

While Cashe was outside, the men inside the burning vehicle just managed to open the rear door. Completely disregarding his own safety, Cashe reentered the flaming Bradley in an attempt to get his comrades out of the Bradley. His fuel-soaked uniform instantly caught fire, but he continued to save six troops and one interpreter while still on fire.

“As we were fighting the fight and clearing the scene, he wouldn’t leave,” Cashe’s commanding officer Major Jimmy Hathaway said in 2014. “He wanted to make sure all of his guys were out first even though he was burned over most of his body. He was still more concerned about his guys getting out than he was.”

After saving his men, Cashe was mortally injured, with over 70% of his body covered in second and third-degree burns. He succumbed to his wounds a month later at the age of 35.

Speaking about his actions in the short time between them and his passing, Cashe said, “I had made peace with God, but I didn’t know if my men had yet.”

Silver Star or Medal of Honor?

View of the Army's Medal of Honor
The Army’s Medal of Honor. (Photo Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images)

At the time, Cashe was awarded the Silver Star for his heroism, but since then, many believe this wasn’t enough, and that he deserved the Medal of Honor. After a long campaign, supporters managed to get the request for an upgrade of his award to Congress in 2019. However, at that time, there was a five-year limit on backdating the Medal of Honor. With the help of Stephanie Murphy, in September 2020, Congress passed a bill that removed this limitation.

Unfortunately, then-President Trump was never able to award the medal to Cashe’s family. A ceremony was planned but had to be canceled due to the January 6th Capitol riots. The ceremony is now expected to take place with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe
Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

It is fortunate then that in the meantime, the heroic exploits of Cashe will be still be honored at Fort Stewart with Cashe Garden’s renaming. The grounds are used for Battalion, Brigade, and Division Changes of Command, as well as other ceremonies.

“Memorializing soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice is a time-honored tradition in the Army,” a spokesperson said. “Cashe’s story is one known by soldiers throughout the Army and epitomizes a true warrior’s spirit. As a soldier and leader, he personified the ‘not fancy, just tough’ spirit of the 3rd ID ‘Dogface’ soldiers.”

The legislation passed to allow the president to award Cashe the Medal of Honor has opened up the opportunity for others in similar situations to also have their medals upgraded.

41 Year Old Medal of Honor Recipient, was Laid to Rest at Arlington

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer.

Medal of Honor recipient and former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer passed away in May 2020 at the age of 41. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Shurer received the Medal of Honor for his actions in treating wounded soldiers while braving “withering enemy fire.” He was presented the award by President Donald Trump on October 1, 2018, in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Shurer was originally scheduled to receive the Silver Star for his actions but a military-wide medals review led to the upgrade.

The Battle of Shok Valley occurred on April 6, 2008. Two Special Forces detachments set out to attack a mountain fortress in the Shok Valley along with over 100 Afghan commandos. The mission was to kill or capture Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was the leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin – a militia group that had taken control of the valley decades earlier.

Members of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, 3rd Special Forces Group in the remote Shok Valley of Afghanistan.
Members of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, 3rd Special Forces Group in the remote Shok Valley of Afghanistan.

A surprise attack was planned but was scrapped when a suitable landing spot could not be located. The commandos were dropped in a nearby river and had to climb to the castle from there. This gave the militia time to prepare an ambush from higher ground.

It wasn’t long before the Special Forces units found themselves surrounded and being fired on from all directions.

Ronald Shurer
Ronald Shurer

Everyone on the team was injured in the fighting. The interpreter was killed almost immediately when the shooting began. With reports of reinforcements arriving for the insurgents, the team knew they needed to retreat.

The team then retreated back down the mountain still under enemy fire. They managed to hold the extraction zone until they could be evacuated by helicopter.

In the end, two team members were killed and nine received serious wounds. It is estimated that 100 of the enemy fighters were killed in the battle.

In an interview about the actions that led to him receiving the Medal of Honor, Shurer spent more talking about his team members than himself.

At his funeral, his colleagues spoke about his selfless giving. During the battle at Shok Valley, Sgt. Maj. Matt Williams said he saw Shurer repeatedly expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat wounded soldiers. He lowered several down the hill, using his own body to shield them from fire. A bullet passed through his helmet and lodged in his arm while he did this.

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams also received the Medal of Honor from his actions during the battle.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams also received the Medal of Honor from his actions during the battle.

Once Shurer had tended to the wounded, he “regained control of his commando squad and rejoined the fight,” according to the citation he received for the Medal of Honor.

Shurer left the military in 2009 and joined the Secret Service. He eventually became part of the counter-assault team assigned to protect the president at the White House.

In 2017, Shurer was diagnosed with lung cancer. He continued to report for work at the White House when his treatments allowed.

Shurer in Afghanistan around 2006.
Shurer in Afghanistan around 2006.

His priest, Father Bob Cilinski, was invited to the ceremony when Shurer received the Medal of Honor. He said that he had known Shurer for a couple of years before that and had never heard about the battle. He said that he asked Shurer how he found the strength to do what he did in that moment. Shurer replied that he prayed, “Dear God, watch over Miranda (his wife) and my family and give me the strength to help others.”

According to his wife and all who knew him, he lived exactly that way – helping others before thinking of himself.

Secret Service Director James Murray said that Shurer dedicated his life to his country and that he was a valued member of the Secret Service. He said that Shurer’s “impact, memory, and legacy will live with us forever.”

Lawmakers Make Way for Army Hero to Receive Medal of Honor

H/T  War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Sergeant Alwyn Cashe you deserve the Medal Of Honor.

Sergeant Alwyn Cashe gave his life in service to his country during the Iraq War in 2005. On October 17th of that year he was traveling in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that took the full force of an improvised explosive device.

 

The vehicle caught fire immediately and Cashe, who was only slightly injured managed to get out of the vehicle straightaway, helping the driver to safety. However, he was more concerned with the situation a half dozen of his team were in.

When one man managed to force open the rear hatch, without showing any concern for his own survival, Cashe climbed back into the burning vehicle to rescue them. During his efforts he became soaked in fuel and caught fire himself.

An M113 in Iraq, similar to the vehicle Cache was travelling in.
An M113 in Iraq, similar to the vehicle Cache was travelling in.

He succeeded in getting all six to safety, and an interpreter, in three forays back into the inferno, while under enemy fire, dragging them through the flames.

‘As we were fighting the fight and clearing the scene, he wouldn’t leave,’ said Major Jimmy Hathaway in 2014, ‘He wanted to make sure all of his guys were out first even though he was burned over most of his body. He was still more concerned about his guys getting out than he was.’

Major Hathaway was Cashe’s commanding officer with A Company 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Sergeant Alwyn Cashe was taken to hospital, but his injuries were grave, more than 70% of his body had been burned, and he passed away a few weeks later on the 8th November. He was thirty-five years old.

Explaining his actions, he said, ‘I had made peace with God, but I didn’t know if my men had yet.’

Cache put the lives of his men before his own.
Cache put the lives of his men before his own.

For his heroic actions Cashe was awarded the Silver Star, but many felt that fell short and a campaign started to award the Medal of Honor. Now it seems that support for the award has reached the office of the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper who has said he agreed with the argument put forward.

In a letter dated the 24th August 2020 Esper confirmed that he had reviewed the Sergeant’s case and, although he was in favour, the decision to approve the time waiver lay with Congress, and the final decision to award the Medal of Honor would rest with the President, the official Commander in Chief.

Representatives in Congress, Democrat Stephanie Murphy, and former Green Beret, Republican Michael Waltz, both from Florida, and Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy Seal, brought the legislation, which passed unanimously, to the House that removes the five year limitation that currently exists, opening the way for the posthumous award, and possibly help other campaigners.

Rep. Murphy released a statement that recognised the ‘painstaking effort’ by Sergeant Cashe’s family and friends, and former comrades, ‘to have his Silver Star upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which is clearly justified by the facts of this case.’ The campaign has been running for well over a decade.

Rep. Murphy described the five-year limitation as a ‘technical obstacle’ and was ‘thrilled’ that it had been removed so that, ‘this incredible soldier [can receive] the recognition he earned.’

Along with the Bill, all three Representatives confirmed they had been working closely with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in order to smooth the passage of the new law and facilitate the award as soon as 2021.

The Bill has a number of precedents with a waiver granted by Congress in 2017 to review all military valour awards presented in conflicts post 9-11 which expired in December 2019.

Cashe’s older sister, Kasinal White said, ‘The family gives them our heartfelt gratitude and thanks. Everybody that has been on the path and remains on it has been faithful.’

Army veteran Chip Spoonts said, ‘Alwyn is a legend among Infantry and all of those in combat arms.’

Military Dog to Receive Highest Award for Actions Against al Qaeda

H/T War History OnLine.

We do not hear and know very much about animals used in war.

Kuno is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois who has retired from service as a military working dog with the Special Boat Service. He retired after injuries sustained while battling al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2019.

 

Now, Kuno is set to become the 72nd recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. It is the highest honor a military animal can receive.

Kuno is now enjoying his well deserved retirement. Credit: PDSA
Kuno is now enjoying his well deserved retirement. Credit: PDSA

In May 2019, the unit that Kuno served with was deployed on an operation to combat al Qaeda in Afghanistan. They were immediately met with gunfire as they exited the helicopter. The unit managed to find cover without sustaining any injuries. They then entered the compound that was the target of their operation and met an al Qaeda insurgent. Kuno was released by his handler and he subdued the insurgent before leading his handler to several hidden caches of weapons and explosives in the compound.

As the team worked their way to another set of buildings, they came under machine gun and grenade fire. An enemy insurgent with night vision goggles was targeting the team. He kept them pinned down until Kuno’s handler released him to attack the insurgent.

Kuno had been trained to incapacitate an indivudual. Credit: PDSA
Kuno had been trained to incapacitate an indivudual. Credit: PDSA

Kuno’s speed and aggressiveness surprised the insurgent who fired wildly as Kuno attacked. Despite being struck by bullets in both rear legs, Kuno subdued the attacker and kept him on the ground while the rest of the team entered the courtyard, captured the insurgent and cleared the rest of the building.

Kuno was given first aid on the scene as well as life-saving aid on the helicopter after the unit was extracted. He had to have one paw amputated to prevent infection. Despite the injuries and the long recovery time, his spirits remained high and he was able to recover and enjoy his retirement in the west country.

To aid that recovery and restore his mobility, Kuno became the first military working dog in Britain to receive custom made prosthetics. He is said to be able to run and jump in the lightweight devices.

To see even more of Kuno, you can follow him on Instagram here.

Kuno was a delight during rehabilitation, and loves people. Credit: PDSA
Kuno was a delight during rehabilitation, and loves people. Credit: PDSA

The Dickin Medal is a large bronze medallion inscribed with the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” in a laurel wreath. The ribbon has green, dark brown, and sky blue stripes which represent water, earth, and air for the naval, land and air forces of the British military. The medal is named after Maria Dickin who founded the PDSA in 1943. It is the highest honor any animal can receive while serving the British military in confict.

To date, the award has been bestowed upon 34 dogs, 32 WWII messenger pigeons, 4 horses and one cat.

Rip the terrier received the Dickin Medal in 1945 for locating people trapped under rubble during the Blitz, saving over 100 lives.
Rip the terrier received the Dickin Medal in 1945 for locating people trapped under rubble during the Blitz, saving over 100 lives.

According to Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, it is clear that Kuno saved the lives of British troops that day and without his invaluable aid, the mission would have ended very differently. As a result of Kuno’s actions, the raid “was one of the most significant achievements” against al Qaeda in many years.

Wallace also stated that Kuno’s story serves to remind us all of the contributions of both the soldiers and the military dogs and also to the care that the UK Armed Forces provide them.