The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

SGT. Danger: Epilogue

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Nathan Geist recently fulfilled a year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he served as a Chaplain Assistant. He is a 2005 graduate of Zion-Benton Township High School, is in his 4th year of studies at Southern Illinois University, and recently appeared in the film The Promotion. Sgt. Geist had been a periodic contributor to The Seeker as he met his responsibilities; this is his final posting regarding his tour.

I walked off the plane and immediately scanned for Joanna and my parents, but I didn’t have to look long. I found my parents a few feet away from me, but the view of them was blocked by the dangling hair of my fiancée, who had jumped on me and wrapped her legs around me as I slowly spun her. I was on U.S. soil again, and I was holding the woman of my dreams in a place that was far, far away from war.

Within hours, I was no longer on my deployment. I had gone through the outprocessing procedures at Fort McCoy… which I was told was a 3 to 5 day process… in a matter of 5 hours. When I got into my parents’ car, I was officially done with my deployment, and I had the official orders to prove it. As of 1627 hours on 4 September 2009, SGT Danger Geist was officially relieved of active duty, even though the tour was originally supposed to last for another 25 days. As a direct result, I will now be able to get back to school just in time for the semester without having to drop any classes. Had I come home even one day later, then the Fort McCoy outprocessing stations would have been shut down until Tuesday (because of the holiday weekend), and I wouldn’t have been to school until after Labor Day. I would have been dropped from my classes, which in turn means I would have to fight to remain enrolled. As it turns out, God’s version of “early” was right on time for me.

And this evening, I walked into my warm home, an example that God’s promises are true and trustworthy.

Last time I emailed you, I told you that there is a twist ending to this deployment. And, I’m not lying about that. It may anger you.

But first, now that I’m home, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support. Thank you for sending me packages; thank you for taking care of my affairs at home; thank you for being there for Joanna and my family while I was away; thank you for the many prayers for me and my comrades; thank you for sending me emails to see how I was doing; thank you for reading my emails so that my story could be told. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have to touch on SGT Bandee for a moment. Over the course of the year, you have been reading accounts from my brother-in-arms, Nicholas Bandee, and have traveled vicariously as he told his story of the dangers he has faced. And I believe he had a story that was worth telling, and that’s why I found it necessary to relay it to you. Not many soldiers get to do what Bandee has done, nor will they ever see the things Bandee has seen: from the Hilltops of Salerno to the Streets of Bermel to the Mountains of Pirkothi, Bandee has endured almost everything a soldier could want to experience. He’s been all around eastern Afghanistan, has had some treasured brothers perish, and has dealt with death. But, at the same time, it would seem a vanity to accredit these things to Bandee. You see, Bandee has no past. And Bandee will never have a future. Bandee was just a blip in the present. And it’s because Bandee is not a real person.

Nicholas Bandee is a fictional character that I made up. However, the stories you read about him are true. In fact, you read true accounts from real experiences.

You see, I am SGT Nicholas Bandee. I am the one who traveled all over eastern Afghanistan. I am the one who was on the “level 4” roads. I am the one who bested IED alley four times, and I am the one who crossed over the KG Pass just as many times. I am the one who conducted a dismounted combat patrol along the Pakistan border. I am the one who had a rocket explode just 150 feet away from me in Bermel. I am the one who climbed the mountains of Afghanistan in pursuit of Talibs. I am the one who was involved in the rollover. And, yes… I am the one who was there during the assault on Camp Stone nearly three weeks ago. I am Bandee.

Some of you may be angry that I’ve fibbed , but I believed it was necessary. For a long time, I struggled as to whether or not I should tell you all the truth, and when I spoke with some of you, I quickly realized that the truth would cause many of you to worry. And, either all of you were going to get the truth, or all of you were going to get the lie. The lie seemed to be in best interests. I hope you aren’t angry. But it was with Bandee that I was able to tell you my story, which I knew was a story that had to be told, even if I wasn’t credited with the experiences. It was only by lying that I was able to tell you the truth. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have told any stories at all, as I know some of you would have worried more than it was worth to worry.

Believe me when I say that my deception has bound me in chains. I have been a prisoner to my lie, and at times it’s been painful. And, that’s the meaning of “Bandee.” You see, Bandee means “prisoner” in Dari, and that name perfectly describes my year in Afghanistan. I’ve been a prisoner to my lie, a prisoner to the hells of Afghanistan, a prisoner to the Army’s amoral protocol, a prisoner to this mission, a prisoner to God’s awesome will, and I was a prisoner to my selfish lifestyle until I deployed and finally made a sacrifice that transcends my own life, and now I’m free. I’m finally a free man.

Every prayer you prayed for Bandee was a prayer that God heard on my behalf. They were not in vain, and I know you’ve all been praying for Bandee and me, as I’ve continually felt God’s precious Hand in every situation I’ve faced. I arrived in Afghanistan last year during the deadliest year since the war began, which will only be surpassed by this year’s deadliness (there are already more deaths this year than there have been any year prior, and we’re only into the 9th month).

But now I’m home, and I’m alive. I can’t say the same for 1LT Southworth, SGT Stream, SSG Melton, SPC Talbert, SPC Smith, or any of my other fallen comrades, but God isn’t done with me yet, which is why I can stand before you today. I have more to do, and now that I’ve faced Afghanistan, I’m ready to take on what life throws at me. God has prepared me to be a better son, brother, friend, husband, and father. And if God has put me through this much in just a mere 23 years, I can’t wait to see what the rest looks like.

Thank you all once again for your support. This is my concluding email, and I am thankful that I could share my journey with all of you. Though there are some experiences that I won’t ever be able to relay in words, I’ve tried as best as I could, and I hope you’ve gotten a clearer picture of the mission in Afghanistan. It’s far from being over, though this is one soldier who’s throwing in the towel. I have just a little bit of time left in the Army, which I will spend passing my knowledge on to junior soldiers to prepare them for their future deployments. As for me, my eyes have seen what they needed to see, my soul has experienced things that have better refined it, and now all that’s left is an aching body that is ready to move on.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t iterate that the reason I am alive today is because God protected me every step of the way. The sound of every gunshot and rocket explosion that penetrated my mind likewise penetrated God, and He felt my pain with every tear I cried. And, it was through Him that I was brought home early, just as He promised in December 2008. For those of you who are intrigued by this strange occurrence, please talk to me about it, and I’ll explain that there doesn’t need to be any intrigue about it: God works in your life, just as He works in mine, and His promises are as true today as they were when He sacrificed His Son, Jesus, on the cross. God loves you, and please, if you get anything from my story, understand that the most. God will never give up on any of us.

Thank you, God bless you, and I love you guys so much. I’m home and here for you. I’d like to leave you with this thought: Things aren’t always what they seem. You and I, we’re just small waves in an ocean. We obey the wind, and many of our movements are determined by the waves that surround us. Every once in a while, my wave will brush along yours, but we’ll mostly be separate waves. My wave might smack the ocean and make a ripple that will affect yours. Yet, both of us are destined to crash on the shore– all waves, no matter how great, will all suffer this same fate. But, after our wave is gone and nothing but a damp spot on the sand, our ripples will still reverberate through the ocean, causing the smallest of waves to gain momentum so they, in turn, can make ripples of their own. This ocean will continue; it’s a constant force that cannot be stopped. And you and I are but two small waves in this vast, vast ocean.

You aren’t drowning, are ya?

love,

Nate

Thank you for all your contributions this year, Sgt. Geist. It was an honor to communicate with you and work on your writing. The Seeker has benefitted greatly from your literary efforts, your open mind, and your tremendous insights into combat and spirituality.

~ Jeff Burd

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Written by seeker70

September 23, 2009 at 1:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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