“I’m not afraid to die.  I have a great relationship with God.  If you don’t believe in God, well, then you haven’t been shot at enough.”  – Mark “Oz” Geist

We recently experienced an amazing evening with one of the heroes of Benghazi – Mark “Oz” Geist. Mark is a Marine Corps veteran and former defense contract employee – security operator – who served and sacrificed on the dreadful evening of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. He assisted author, Mitchell Zuckoff, in writing the critically acclaimed book, 13 Hours.

Mark shared stories of an evening that quite literally changed his life.  He was a warrior and served our country for many years before the unforgettable evening in Benghazi where he watched his brothers die and his arm was nearly severed from his body.  The publicity and horror of what happened on that night will never discount all the work done before and all the work that he continues to do, but on that night he certainly accepted the ultimate test of loyalty, patriotism and sacrifice.  Mark shared his story of what actually happened on the ground during those seemingly endless 13 hours.  Mark spent time sharing his personal memory of the sequence of events which differed in some ways from what has been portrayed in the media and Washington. What stuck out to us was the knowledge his experience afforded him to determine his next move, his acute understanding of strategic thinking, his willingness to persist, his strength in God, and his loyalty to his brothers in the field with him.

In the heat of battle, when he came to realize that no one was coming to help, he could only hope for a miracle. He knew that this was his reality and that he had to press forward.  Mark explained that he only hoped to be judged by how he responded to the events as they unfolded. He resisted requests by the guests in attendance to get into debating the politics that surrounded that evening’s events. However, he did comment that a commercial airliner could travel from Washington D.C. to Benghazi in less than 13 hours. We were all left to wonder why help never arrived. Later, as he had witnessed so many times before, Mark saw the caskets of his friends draped in the flag they died serving. He made it clear that he now lives to honor their sacrifice.

In these times of extreme political strife when even the slightest offenses can divide our country, our communities and even our families, it is encouraging to know that there are still fellow citizens who remain true to the simple values of service, sacrifice and honor. Mark “Oz” Geist is one of those people. We were truly honored to meet him.

 

Mark Geist is not affiliated with Raymond James.

Author:  Bob Gaskin and Ivey Gaskin Baker