he commanding officer of the rifle company that conducted the successful rescue of members of Task Force Ranger in Somalia, an event made famous by the book and movie Black Hawk Down, brought the message at the Veterans Day ceremony held in Platte City.
The ceremony, put together by Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt, was held Sunday morning at 11–11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month–at the Veterans Memorial Monument in Settlers Crossing Park at the foot of Platte City’s Main Street.
Remembrance Day–Nov. 11–is a national holiday in France and Belgium. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at 11 a.m.—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
Nov. 11–Veterans Day 2018–marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Col. Drew R. Meyerowich, who now lives in the Platte City area after retiring from the military four years ago, said: “I’m honored to speak to you on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. It means an awful lot to me to speak in my local community.
“I’m not from Platte City,” Meyerowich said, explaining he was born in New York, the son of a police officer, and moved to Florida at a young age. He said four years ago when he and his wife were figuring out what he wanted to do and where he wanted to do it, he reflected back to the America he pictured that he was defending during his time in the military.
“I thought about what I see when I recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem. It was not the sunny beaches or New York City. I was drawn to our nation’s heartland,” he said.
As for the famous Black Hawk Down mission, Meyerowich encouraged all to see a new documentary entitled “Black Hawk Down: The Untold Story,” which is a factual account. He said the original Black Hawk Down movie and the book are “far from the truth.”
“I’m humbled to say that I was fortunate to command the company that rescued those soldiers on that fateful night,” Meyerowich said, a mission that occurred in October of 1993.
By the time it ended on Oct. 4, 18 soldiers were killed and 80 wounded, but the U.S. forces fought their way into Mogadishu to get the members of the Army’s premier infantry unit out, despite heavy gunfire. At the time it was reported to be the bloodiest firefight since the Vietnam War.
“On Oct. 3, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia, my company was pinned down by what seemed insurmountable obstacles of burning vehicles and bullets,” the colonel said at Sunday’s ceremony.
A private was shot and killed while standing right next to Meyerowich. Thirteen years to the day later, on Oct. 3, 2006, Meyerowich’s staff sergeant, the man responsible for Meyerowich’s security, was killed in a firefight in Iraq while standing right next to the colonel.
He said he feels the presence of those two men every day.
“They motivate me, they guide me and they even laugh at me,” he said. “They are with us today in celebration of all the sacrifices our living veterans have made for our country and our community. Through me, they want to say thank you for your dedication to this great republic. They want you to continue to be dedicated to the principles of our military service and to use them to continue to strengthen our community. They keep me grounded in my purpose.”
Meyerowich acknowledged that much of the news about veterans today is not good news.
“The statistic of 22 veteran suicides a day is too prevalent and casts a shadow over all the good that our veterans do,” he said. “I cannot give you an educated answer on the causes and the reasons. Veterans need to find their passion and own it like soldiers do.”
He praised veterans, “who live all around our community,” and who “bring valuable experiences and services as community leaders, business owners, teachers, managers, skilled technicians. They know how to operate as a team and know why this teamwork is so important to mission success.”
“As a veteran, many of us have teamwork experiences from some of the most dangerous conditions on the face of the Earth. This drive does not leave us after the military, in actuality this drive becomes even stronger,” he remarked.
“I stand here today with the huge burden of earning it for the 20 soldiers that I lost in combat and like every veteran I’m going to complete the mission,” he said.
His advice to fellow veterans is to “never let your experiences consume you, rather let those experiences define the person you need to be.”
In addition to his service in Somalia, Meyerowich also completed a successful 15-month combat tour as an infantry battalion and multi-service task force commander of more than 1,200 military and civilian members during the height of the insurgency in Iraq from 2006 through 2008.
He earned numerous awards and decorations including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and various other commendations for meritorious service. He has been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab. He is also authorized to wear German jump wings.
Meyerowich is currently the chief operating officer for a Kansas City-based manufacturing company known as Holland 1916.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the United States Military Academy, West Point New York and holds a masters degree in strategic studies and communications from the United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.