Sgt. Matt Eversmann is portrayed by Josh Hartnett in the movie Black Hawk Down. For eighteen hours, American soldiers serving in Somalia were trapped inside a hostile area in Mogadishu. Rangers and Delta Force soldiers, vastly outnumbered and targeted by an angry mob, were under fierce attack until they were rescued.
For the courage and leadership he demonstrated in the ambush, Sgt. Eversmann received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor device and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
He was awarded numerous additional military decorations including the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Ribbon, eight Army Achievement medals plus four Army Commendation medals.
Before he retired from active military duty, in early 2008, Eversmann served eighteen months in Iraq where he led an elite Army Ranger force.
What experience did he have at the time of "Black Hawk Down?" Eversmann was twenty-six years old during the Mogadishu mission. The young men he commanded were known as "chalk" - hence names like "Chalk Four" for a group of Rangers and Delta Force operators sent in to do a job:
At liftoff, Matt Eversmann said a Hail Mary. He was curled into a seat between two helicopter crew chiefs, the knees of his long legs up to his shoulders. Before him, jammed on both sides of the Black Hawk helicopter, was his "chalk," twelve young men in flak vests over tan desert camouflage fatigues...The burden of responsibility for these young Rangers weighed heavily on Eversmann. This time out they were his. (The Greatest U.S. Army Stories Ever Told: Unforgettable Stories of Courage, by Iain C. Martin, pages 247-8.)
Although the men about to be dropped into the city of Mogadishu had limited, if any, combat experience, their leader - Eversmann - had seventeen months of training:
I was a young staff sergeant with about five years' worth of experience in the Army...I had been with the Ranger Regiment only since March 1992. In my seventeen months of training with the regiment, I had deployed all over the world. We trained with the British Parachute Regiment in the United Kingdom. We traveled to South Korea to experience the harsh Korean winters and mountainous terrain. We even trained with the Thai Rangers in Lop Buri, Thailand. We traveled all over the globe to develop our combat skills. Now, after five years of good, hard training, I was on my way to battle. (The Battle of Mogadishu: Firsthand Accounts from the Men of Task Force Ranger, edited by Matt Eversmann and Dan Schilling, pages 3-4.)
Matt Eversmann survived Operation Gothic Serpent, but not all of the Rangers and Delta Force operators made it out of Mog alive.
Photo online, courtesy U.S. Army.