Thursday, November 10, 2011
I’m just back from a breakfast where the guest speaker was Sgt. Matt Eversmann. Eversmann was one of the heroes of the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. That battle and Eversmann’s actions were the basis of the book and then movie “Black Hawk Down.”
His story is a great reminder, one day before Veterans Day, of the incredible bravery and selfless service of the American men and women in uniform who fight to preserve freedoms that the rest of us may sometimes take for granted. Tomorrow, and every day, the rest of us should remember the contributions of both our veterans and current service members who are spread across the globe, sometimes in unimaginable conditions, in service to all of us.
In 1993, Somalia was stricken with famine and civil war, and warlords were killing UN peacekeepers. The U.S. went in to try to capture the most powerful warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Eversmann was picked to lead Ranger Chalk Four, one of the key teams in the anti-Aidid effort.
Eversmann describes how nervous he was at Fort Bragg before shipping out. But at a memorial there he read a passage of scripture from Isaiah, Chapter 6, Verse 8. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me!’” That’s when he realized, Eversmann said, that it was not about just “fighting the bad guys”; it was about selfless service to fellow soldiers and to country.
“Pure barbarism,” is how Eversmann described what he saw in Somalia. He talked about what a huge “emotional burden” it was to hold the fate of young soldiers in his hands.
Eversmann recounted the battle, which included one young soldier falling 60 feet from a helicopter and breaking his back; two helicopters crashing and being swarmed by Somali foot soldiers; 19 Americans killed.
“The story doesn’t have a happy ending, but it’s an incredible, brilliant testament to the tenacity, perseverance and courage” of all the American servicemen and women, he said. Eversmann reminded us that at the exact minute he was speaking, Americans were in Baghdad and Kandahar and Tora Bora. “Kids are out there chasing after evil people that mean us harm,” Eversmann said.
“We’re blessed to have the freedoms we do,” he said, and it’s because of the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women.
On Veterans Day and everyday, amen.
Posted by The Observer Editorial Board at 10:21 AM