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Battlefield Recovery from Ancient Greece to Black Hawk Down and Beyond

On November 1, 2023 in honor of Veterans' Day, Eternal Soldier at Penn Museum, Penn Veterans Collaborative, Penn Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs and Drexel University Center for Military and Veteran Services co-presented an extraordinary panel discussion, "Leave No Warrior Behind," featuring combat Veterans and scholars speaking about the recovery of fallen warriors from the battlefield through the centuries.

Watch this incredible conversation honoring all who served.
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Watch the video below or click here to view it on You Tube!

Eternal Soldier thanks the panelists, our collaborators, Veterans and our audience for sharing their ideas, views and questions during this memorable event. The images, topics raised and connections made to battle narratives past and present shared in this video were powerful and illuminating.


Sheila Murnaghan PhD

Professor, Penn Classics

Col. Thomas E. Matthews

USA Retired

Capt. Jessica E. Stephenson

USA Retired

Sheila Murnaghan PhD, discusses the ancient Greek warrior Ajax, who retrieved Achilles' body from the Trojan War battlefield after he had been slain with an arrow to his heel. Dr. Murnaghan is Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. The main areas of her research and teaching are Homer’s "Iliad" and "Odyssey," tragic drama, gender in classical culture, and modern reuses of classical literature. Her principal current project is a commentary on Sophocles' "Ajax." She is also the author of a new translation of Euripides' "Medea" and Sophocles' "Antigone," and one of the facilitators of the "Homer and Beyond: Veterans Read Homer" reading groups sponsored by Penn's Eternal Soldier Program.

Col. Thomas E. Matthews (USA Retired) discusses his role as a commander in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, more famously known as "Black Hawk Down," and compares events to those surrounding Ajax. This year (2023) is the 30th anniversary of that battle---American soldiers were pinned down under heavy fire after a failed attempt to capture a Somali warlord---and the heroic effort to rescue the fighters. Mr. Matthews coordinates defense intelligence support involving Policy, Plans, Resources, Manpower and Reserve Intelligence matters with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Joint Staff, Intelligence Combat Support Agencies, the Services and the Combatant Commands. Matthews, a Philadelphia native, received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army through Drexel University, and is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the United States Army War College, and also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University. Of particular note were commands in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Night Stalkers), and in the 101st Airborne Division (the Screaming Eagles). Overseas postings include Korea and Honduras with deployments to the Persian Gulf and Somalia (Battle of Mogadishu). Mr. Matthews began his civilian career on the Joint Staff and was present in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.


Capt. Jessica E. Stephenson (USA Retired), discusses her experiences with combat search and rescue as a pilot and highlights her civilian work with Eternal Soldier. Jessica served as an Aviation Officer and AH-64D (Apache) helicopter pilot in the United States Army from 2010 until her retirement as a Captain in 2018. Jessica began her military career by attending The United States Military Academy at West Point from which she graduated in 2010. After graduating from flight school as an Apache Longbow Pilot, Jessica served in Task Force Tigershark (1-10 ATK) in the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain (LI) Division at Fort Drum, NY. She served as a Flight and Maintenance Platoon Leader with TF Tigershark in Afghanistan from 2013-2014 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition to flying combat missions, some of her other duties on the deployment included serving as the Personnel Recovery Officer, Downed Aircraft Recovery Team (DART) Officer, and as the Base Defense Liaison Officer.  After her deployment to Afghanistan, Jessica served as the Battalion Logistics Officer, graduated from the Aviation Captain's Career Course, and served as the Troop Commander for A/3-17 CAV in the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. She later completed Security Forces Assistance Brigade Advisor Training and worked as the Division Deputy Aviation Officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. Jessica is a combat veteran and deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF XIII-XIV) where she was awarded three Air Medals and the Combat Action Badge. She is honored on the Delaware Women’s Military Service Monument. Jessica earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering: Mechatronics from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2010 and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 2020.


Our moderator was Kimberly Max Brown PhD, Executive Director Eternal Soldier.

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