Wednesday, April 28, 2010

27 Minutes

27 Minutes.

That's how long it took Army snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon to go from two regular Delta Force soldiers to heroes. They saved another man's life, at the cost of their own.

The oversimplified story is this: On October 3, 1993, during a raid to capture a Somali warlord in Mogadishu, a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. When another Black Hawk took its place in the sky to provide cover for the ground forces, that helicopter was also shot down. Its pilot, Mike Durant, survived the crash but was badly injured, and a thousand Somali guerrilla fighters converged on the site.

After being denied twice previously, Shughart and Gordon were given permission to leave their helicopter and set up a perimeter around Durant. Two men, against hundreds if not thousands of hardened fighters. They reached the crash site, pulled Durant free, and set him up in a covered position before engaging the enemy. After expending all his ammunition, Gordon was mortally wounded. Shughart returned to Durant to give him another weapon. As he left, he simply said, "Good luck." Minutes later, after expending all his ammunition, and that from discarded weapons, Shughart was also mortally wounded. Durant was captured, but later released. He is still alive today.

It took 27 minutes. Less than half an hour. In the amount of time it takes to watch a sitcom, two
men gave everything they ever had, and ever would be, to save one. Have you done something in that short a time that has meant so much? I know I have not.

What is also interesting is that Shughart and Gordon knew what they were asking to do. They knew rescue was far away, and that the area was extremely hostile, but they asked to go in anyways. What motivates someone to ask for such a task, where the outcome is so deeply in doubt? What do you think as you run towards what you know might very well be your death? What do you think as the situation escalates out of hand? Do you still believe in your choice?

27 Minutes. That's how long it took for two men to save a life, take scores of others, win the Medal of Honor, become heroes, and die.

27 Minutes.

Think about that next time you are sitting down, wasting time in the mindless minutia we call life. Think about that, and think about Randy Shughart, Gary Gordon, and the countless others that have changed the world in some way in such a small period of time.

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