'Black Hawk Down's' Eversmann Speaks To Students About Leadership

Marti Lotman
“Who will go for us?”

It’s a theological question and one many of our veterans have answered with a resounding, “send me!” First sergeant Matt Eversmann (Ret.) heard and answered the call during his two decades of military service. Eversmann spent the morning of March 29 with Benjamin students speaking about his deployment to Somalia in 1993 as part of the upper school’s Leadership Lecture Series.

When you google Matt Eversmann, he comes up as a fictional character played by actor Josh Hartnett. But Eversmann’s the real deal, Hartnett his fictional counterpart. Hartnett depicted Eversmann’s experience trapped in a hostile district of Mogadishu by an angry mob in the film “Black Hawk Down.” The silver screen edition, according to the retired first sergeant, is about 80 percent accurate.

For Eversmann, the smell of Mogadishu still lingers.

“It smelled like burnt sulphur - like a garbage dump burning,” he tells students. Eversmann remembers the oppressive 127 degree heat - a temperature so hot it “makes your nose hairs burn.” Eversmann, who now wears two hearing aids as a direct consequence of hearing loss during his time in Somalia, says the sound of battle was so loud it made your teeth hurt.

“I almost feel unworthy to share the story with you,” he says to the captivated audience in Benjamin Hall. “We are still a nation at war. We are able to do anything we want to because of our courageous veterans . . . They’re kids from right next door. No one wears a red cape and changes in a phone booth - they’re just like me and you.”

Eversmann says certain leadership values he learned during his time in the service translate well into civilian life. Among them, he cites three core principles: selfless service, courage and duty.

“The common denominator is people. Certain qualities, like mental toughness, translate into civilian life. We live in difficult times. There are going to be significant challenges in your life. Those who are trained will prevail. The lemmings will not succeed. It's so easy to stand up here and be self righteous and tell you you need to do these three things when many times I can’t myself. But we’re all in it together.”
A premier PK3 - Grade 12 independent, coeducational day school with campuses in North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Since 1960, The Benjamin School has provided a challenging college preparatory education to a diverse student body in a structured, nurturing community environment.
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