The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Guest Blogger: SGT. Danger’s Deployment is 1/4 Complete

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Nathan Geist is currently serving as a Chaplain Assistant in the Army. He is a 2005 graduate of Zion-Benton Township High School, has studied for 3 years at Southern Illinois University, and recently appeared in the film The Promotion. Sgt. Geist will appear as a periodic contributor to The Seeker throughout the next year as he fulfills a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

This is probably the most important (and yet one of the shortest… maybe…) emails I’ve sent so far, because a lot of changes have been occurred recently that you’ll probably find interesting. Along with that, I have great news, but I’ll save that for the end so you gotta read the rest first.
First, let me say that, as of today, according to my military orders I received in September, I am over 25% complete with this deployment. That truly is a great landmark, and I’ll tell you why: I have now been in a combat zone for well over 30 days, and therefore have earned what is known as a “combat patch.” If you’ve ever seen Army guys with patches on their right shoulder under the American flag, you’ve seen a combat patch. In the Army, combat patches really garner respect from other soldiers, because it separates the war veterans from the inexperienced. There are many soldiers that have been in 20+ years and haven’t received a combat patch, and so this is something that I’m really excited about, because whether or not I wear the uniform in a few years, I will always have that patch within me now.
My outlook is very good right now… I survived a very difficult Christmas season away from home, I now have my combat patch, I have completed 100 straight days of grueling active duty service, and I have less than 300 days to go (and actually, a lot less than that, but again, I’ll let you read about that later).
Here’s another great addition that I am excited to tell you about: we have received another chaplain assistant named SGT Nicholas Bandee. He will be conducting the “operational” side of this duty; he will be the one going out on convoys and taking flights all over Afghanistan, and in fact already has treaded over the dangerous KG Pass of Afghanistan just one day after a group of soldiers were ambushed on that route (the KG Pass is a mountain-pass where you are driving in a vehicle, literally just a few feet away from an edge that drops off at least 6,000 feet… very dangerous for many reasons). Just the other day, he was sent out on a mission to Ghazni, Afghanistan, and less than an hour before his flight left, he began puking like crazy. In a 5 minute period, he puked 4 times, and so he was really sick from something. But he went anyway. To get to Ghazni, he had to stay overnight at an air base and wait for a flight the next morning at 10am. Well, apparently the chopper came in 45 minutes early, and so he was running to get to his flight before it lifted off; unfortunately, the air is a lot thinner there, and on his way to the chopper, he collapsed in the snow because he didn’t have the strength or the lung capacity to make it there. Nobody was around him to help him, so he mustered all his strength and picked up his weapons and his heavy bag and tried again to get to the flight line. But he didn’t make it very far, and collapsed again into the snow, unable to breathe. He had made it far enough that some soldiers were within view this time; they helped him up and took his bag for him, and then a golf-kart-like-vehicle called a “Gator” came by and picked him up. He crawled onto the front of the Gator and laid on the hood of it as it carted him down to the helicopter. He was able to make the flight in time, and successfully made it to Ghazni to provide the Christian service they needed there. Unfortunately, the day after the service, he jumped on a bird back to Gardez, but somehow got re-routed to Bagram Air Field in northern Afghanistan. Because the weather between Bagram and Gardez has been really harsh the past few days, no flights were able to get him back, so he was stranded in Bagram. By that time, he had gone well over a week without a shower and had been wearing the same clothes for 3 days and counting because his 3-day trip to Ghazni turned into a week-long adventure all over Afghanistan. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his plight.
Anyway, you will hear some of Bandee’s stories because they are often going to be a lot more interesting than mine, and also helps outline the role we play here in Afghanistan. Besides great stories, Bandee is very useful in that he has really enabled me to get more done. Because he is taking care of such a huge part of the operation, I am now able to focus on the logistical side of the mission; that is, maintaining the chapel, planning Bandee’s movements, lots of administrative crap, meeting with the mullahs and locals, and taking part in Humanitarian Missions.
Speaking of Humanitarian missions, I was privileged to go on one already. A humanitarian mission is where we gather a bunch of goods (specifically food, clothes, toys, and shoes) and hand them out to the local Afghans here. It was a very rewarding experience, and I was able to get a lot of videos and pictures of the experience. I’ve attached a couple pictures of me interacting with the locals.
Alright, now I’ll tell you what I was referring to before that I felt was very significant. I am pleased to announce that I will be coming home early from Afghanistan. At the beginning of the year, the Army told us that we would be back in our homes by midnight of September 29, 2009. Now, it’s been cut down even shorter than that. I don’t know how “early” I will be leaving, I just know that it’s earlier than before. Yet, the funny thing is, the Army hasn’t told me this at all. In fact, quite the opposite! I’ve heard rumors that we were being extended from day one, and some even said we’d be extended through January 2010. The Army is confidently telling me that I won’t be going home early. But, the reason I firmly believe that I will be going home early is because I believe God told me that I would be. I know some of you are groaning by me mentioning that, getting frustrated and thinking “here he goes again with his God ramblings,” but I am telling you that I guarantee that I will come home early. There are many things I’m not good at in life, and a few things I am. One of those things that I am good at is listening to God’s promises to me. Just in the same way God told me I would marry Joanna (even though I hadn’t even met her yet) and just in the same way God told me I would be going home on a Thanksgiving pass one day early, He is telling me that I will come home before I was “supposed” to from this deployment. There’s no strings attached. I hope you believe me, but I don’t blame you if you don’t, because it’s not an easy thing to swallow (even my chaplain tells me I’m an idiot). But I’m just trying to give you advance notice that you’ll see me before you thought you would, and that for my friends at SIUE, you can expect me for the Fall 2009 semester. In fact, I’m already registered for classes and am in the process of securing a room on campus. My anthem used to be “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” but not anymore.
As I close, I have a couple prayer requests. Please pray for George Bush as he leaves office in a few days, and meanwhile please pray for Barack Obama as he takes on one of the most stressful adventures anyone could fathom. Whether you like Bush or Obama is beside the point; please pray for them to be given wisdom regardless. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Thank you, God bless, and have faith in what I’m saying!

Written by seeker70

January 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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