LINCOLN, Maine — A Mainer who heroically gave his life nearly 30 years ago was honored Monday morning at the Lincoln Veterans Memorial. The ceremony held was to unveil a 10-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Master Sergeant Gary Gordon.
Gordon was a native of Lincoln. He gave the ultimate sacrifice while rescuing a downed helicopter crew in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993.
Gordon died on a rescue mission, trying to save fellow troops who had survived a helicopter crash.
"There were comrades in arms down below them that needed their help and they were determined to provide it," said retired U.S. Army Col. Ron Russel.
In May of 1994, Gordon and his team member, Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, both received the nation's highest military award for their bravery: the Medal of Honor.
Their families were the first recipients of the medal since the Vietnam war.
The statue faces Gordon’s grave at Lincoln’s Park Street Cemetery.
Sen. Susan Collins was part of the ceremony.
"I was struck once again by the extraordinary courage that Gary exhibited that day, over and over again protecting those who were downed," said Collins. "I have been to several events to honor Master Sergeant Gordon, but in some ways this was the most meaningful, to see the beautiful sculpture that will forever adorn the veterans memorial here in Lincoln."
Almost 30 years later, his wife Carmen Gordon is happy to know he's not forgotten. She believes if her husband was still alive, he wouldn't be very comfortable being called a hero because he was just doing what it took to save his brothers.
"So here we are! The unveiling of a 10-foot bronze image of Gary, just as he was since the day, just as he was the day he gave his life to rescue his brothers in arms," said Carmen to a large crowd of community members.
Carmen said she hopes more people can learn about this conflict and inspire others to understand what it means to sacrifice for the country.
"To stand as a hero for all of us today, and future generations to come, and to give me the opportunity to caress his cheek one more time," Carmen said.
After two years of hard work, Pennsylvania sculptor Chad Fisher finished the sculpture.
"I figured I probably make 50, 60 statues in my lifetime, so selecting statues and stories is really important," said Fisher.
Fisher hopes the sculpture teaches future generations what a hero looks like and what a hero can do.
"We pour all the bronze in-house. That takes about two to three months," said Fisher. "Our studio is just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We had to delicately move it onto a truck to deliver it."
Fisher said it meant the world to him to see the family very happy and hear them say thank you.
"There's another tenet in the soldier's creed, the ranger creed, and the special forces creed that needs to be mentioned. That tenet 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," Russel explained as he narrated Gordon's efforts in Somalia.
"It's just nice that Gary is home again. It feels like he's brought to life as he stands here in his hometown," Carmen said.