The database page for Stephen Jonathan Geist
Jenne Keller's original memorial is posted at
Stephen was born on April 12, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, he called Silver Spring, Maryland, his home. While growing up he was involved in swimming, Speology, the Boy Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol. All of his activities indicated his desire to be part of a well-functioning team. His goal was not for personal glory but to become one with a group of men who were highly motivated to excellence and dedicated to the same interests. This desire manifested itself in Stephen's intention to become part of the United States Army Special Forces. The proudest day of his life was the day he was awarded his Green Beret.
After training, Stephen volunteered for Vietnam. He served as a demolition and small arms expert on an "A" team supported by a Provincial Unit of ARVN. After six months of heavy combat, Stephen was pulled back to a supporting field unit of the Special Forces.
There, he was assigned as a Heavy Weapons Specialist, Detachment A-332, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), III Corps, War Zone C, Republic of Vietnam. As a member of this 12-man team, Stephen was responsible for the training for indiginous SVN troops in the operation of heavy weapons, such as machine guns, mortars, recoilless rifles, as well as infantry tactics and training and camp defenses. He also accompanied troops on combat patrols.
He wrote letters home not about how many ways he'd learned to kill, but how many ways he'd learned to preserve life and aid others from his training. He spoke of the privilege to be associated with men who shared his dedication and belief that freedom cannot merely be wished for, it must be earned by hard work. He never spoke in apathy of the Vietnamese people, but rather the courage of these people to place themselves in harms way and die if necessary for their rights...free from fear or coercion.
On September 25, 1967, Stephen was the observer aboard an O-1D aircraft of the 74th Aviation Company piloted by Lt. Lynn R. Huddleston on a visual reconnaissance mission north of Minh Thanh, Binh Long Province, 4 miles from the Cambodian border.
A radio call was received by Detachment A-332 at 0930 hours from Lt. Huddleston. No coordinates were given. Again at 1030 hours, a call from Lt. Huddleston was monitored by Hon Quan Radar, and Huddleston gave his position as the vicinity of grid coordinates XT633739, or a few miles from the Cambodian border just north of Minh Thanh. This was the last radio communication with the men aboard the O-1D. The plane never reached its destination. Search and rescue was initiated at 1310 hours but was terminated 3 days later without any sightings of either the aircraft or its crew. No trace has ever been found.
Two additions have been added to Stephen's file. In 1988 one such addition makes mention of remains coming out of Cambodia however these remains belonged to neither Stephen or Lt. Huddleston. Another addition mentions a villager who saw an O-1D go down in that area on that day. When villagers arrived at the crash site, one man was dead and the one with a gun was executed. This shows the search for these two brave men may now be expanded into Cambodia.
On a more personal note, Stephen's memorial marker is placed in Andersonville, Georgia, at the old Civil War POW camp and the National X-POW Museum. In 1999, Stephen received a second Purple Heart medal, this one for giving his life for his country. The Medal presentation was performed with 4-star General Thomas Schwartz, Commander of the Army's Forces Command Fort McPherson. General Schwartz wears Stephen's bracelet as I do. A grateful nation has, at last, given Stephen the honor he well deserves.
Some of this information was provided by the P.O.W. Network.
A memorial from |
and a sister-in-law
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With all respect - K. J. Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)