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We're honoring all of the men and women who have given their lives in service to our nation and their families. Our next story starts in Somalia, the year 1993. American forces were protecting a humanitarian aid effort in the midst of a famine and a civil war. During a mission to capture several of the Somali warlord's top lieutenants, two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. The ground task force was cobbled together to secure the first crash site, but there weren't any resources left for the second. Circling overhead, two Delta snipers, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shugart, saw how desperate the situation was.
An armed force of hundreds converged on the second crash site and there was no doubt about what an angry mob would do to a downed American flight crew. So these two men asked higher headquarters for permission to insert into the crash site. This request was insane. It was also denied. With the mob getting closer, Gordon and Shugart asked again. They were denied again.
One more time they asked and finally they got the green light. The two men fought through a 100 meter maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew of Super 64. They fired their rifles and pistols with deadly accuracy, delaying a mob that they knew they had no chance against. Running out of ammo, Gordon and Shugart were killed in action. Because of them, the pilot Michael Durant eventually made it home alive. Gordon and Shugart earned the Medal of Honor and set the highest standard for love for American fighting men.
But where does that leave their families? Gary Gordon's widow Carmen wrote this letter for their children age six and age three. My dearest Ian and Brittany, I hope that in the final moments of your father's life, his last thoughts were not of us. As he lay dying, I wanted him to think only of the mission to which he pledged himself. As you grow older, if I can show you the love and responsibility he felt for his family, you will understand my feelings.
I did not want him to think of me or of you because I didn't want his heart to break. Children were meant to have someone responsible for them. No father ever took that more seriously than your dad.
Responsibility was a natural part of him, an easy path to follow. Each day after work, his truck pulled into our driveway. I watched the two of you run to him, feet pounding across the painted boards of our porch, yelling, Daddy. Every day I saw his face when he saw you. You were the center of his life. Ian, when you turned one year old, your father was beside himself with excitement, baking you a cake in the shape of a train.
On your last birthday, Brittany, he sent you a handmade birthday card from Somalia. But your father had two families. One was us and the other was his comrades. He was true to both. He loved his job. Quiet and serious adventure filled some part of him I could never fully know. After his death, one of his comrades told me that on a foreign mission, your dad led his men across a snow-covered ridge that began to collapse.
Racing across a yawning crevice to safety, he grinned wildly and yelled, wasn't that great? You will hear many times about how your father died. You will read what the President of the United States said when he awarded the Medal of Honor. Gary Gordon died in the most courageous and selfless way any human being can act.
But you may still ask why. You may ask how he could have been devoted to two families so equally. Dying for one but leaving the other. For your father, there was no hard choices in life. Once he committed to something, the way was clear. He chose to be a husband and a father and never wavered in those roles.
He chose the military and I shall not fail those with whom I served became his simple religion. When his other family needed him, he did not hesitate as he would not have hesitated for us. It may not have been the best thing for us, but it was the right thing for your dad. There are times now when the image of him coming home comes back to me.
I see him scoop you up Ian and I see you Brittany bury your head in his chest. I dread the day when you stop talking and asking about him when he seems so long ago. So now I must take the responsibility for keeping his life entwined with yours. It's a responsibility I never wanted.
But I know what your father would say nothing you can do about it. Carmen just keep going. Those times when the crying came as I stood at the kitchen counter were never long enough. You came in the front door, Brittany saying Mommy, you sad you miss Daddy. You reminded me I had to keep going. The ceremonies honoring your dad were hard when they put his photo in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. I thought, can this be all that is left?
Picture? Then General Sullivan read from the letter General Sherman wrote to General Grant after the Civil War. Words so tender that we all broke down. Throughout the war, you were always in my mind.
I always knew if I were in trouble and you were still alive, you would come to my assistance. One night before either of you were born, your dad and I had a funny little talk about dying. I teased that I would not know where to bury him. Very quietly, he said a poem in my uniform.
Your dad never really liked to wear his uniform. And a poem Maine was far away from us. Only after he was laid to rest in a tiny flag filled graveyard in Lincoln, Maine did I understand his parents burying their only son could come tomorrow and the day after that. You and I would not have to pass this grave on the way to the grocery store, to little league games, to ballet recitals.
Our lives would go on. And to the men he loved and died for, the uniform was a silent salute. A final repeat of his vows.
Once again, he had taken care of all of us. On a spring afternoon, a soldier from your dad's unit brought me the things from his military locker. At the bottom of a cardboard box beneath his boots, I found a letter. Written on a small, ruled tablet, it was his voice. Quiet but confident in the words he wanted us to have if something should happen to him. I'll save it for you. But so much of him is already inside you both.
Let it grow with you. Choose your own responsibilities in life, but always, always follow your heart. Your dad will be watching over you just as he always did. Love, Mom. And a special thanks to Faith for reading that letter that was written by Carmen Gordon to her two children aged six and three upon learning of her husband and their father's death in battle. And that's of course Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and anyone who has seen Black Hawk Down.
It's a must see movie for any family about what happens in the battlefield and how these men and women. Well, the sacrificial nature of this kind of love. I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Gordon's letter to his wife in the event of his death. I'm so very lucky to have you as a wife. I know you have the ability to go far and shall as long as you believe.
It takes longer to build that foundation because the bricks break off now and again. Life's funny sometimes. The key is to keep a sense of humor. Don't take it seriously. Enjoy it. The real secret to life is already inside us.
Just dig a little deeper. The story of Master Sergeant Gary Gordon. The story of Carmen and her kids in a way through this letter. Celebrating and honoring all who died in the battlefield here on Memorial Day. Our special Memorial Day broadcast continues here on Our American Stories.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-27 04:22:12 / 2023-05-27 04:27:05 / 5