NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.– Army Infantry Captain Patrick Geiger, a veteran of the Iraq War, walked onto the stage in Orr Auditorium for the campus Veterans Day ceremony and shared several personal accounts of his combat experience. Westminster’s first-ever men’s lacrosse coach was blunt about what it means to serve and sacrifice. He called war a paradox.
“It was the greatest time, yet the worst time. There was pain and fear, yet it was addictive and thrilling. I never want to see war again, yet I miss it and yearn for it.”
Geiger received the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for leadership in multiple combat engagements while serving in the Iraq War for 15 months from 2007-2008.
He offered his story as a way to understand how service had altered him. His experiences included having a grenade land at his feet and surviving an IED explosion. Geiger also reflected on the impact of watching casualties decimate is 40 member platoon as it dwindled to 28 during one mission.
“Death was always on my mind. I thought I would never return home, never see my family again.”
Geiger bravely explained what he was sharing publicly was the first time he had talked about his experiences with anyone beyond his fellow soldiers. His speech came with retrained emotions as he discussed what he went through during his 15 months in Iraq from 2007-2008.
“I was always so tired, mentally, physically and emotionally. It breaks you down and tears your soul apart. You learn dark things about yourself you wish you hadn’t.”
Geiger’s combat tales echoed inside a mostly empty auditorium. Only a few dozen people gathered to participate. But Geiger’s message received a wave of applause.
This story was produced by Troy Jackson and Brad Weaver.