GEIST, STEPHEN JONATHAN
Name: Stephen Jonathan Geist
Rank/Branch: E4/US Army
Unit: Detachment A-334, 5th Special Forces
Date of Birth: 12 April 1946 (Philadelphia PA)
Home City of Record: Silver Springs MD
Loss Date: 26 September 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 113115N 1062952E (XT633739)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Lynn R. Huddleston (missing)
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, information from sister-in-law, Susan Ragan.
SYNOPSIS: Stephen Jonathan Geist was born in Philadelphia, PA on the 12th of
April, 1946. His interests while growing up included the Boy Scouts,
swimming, Speology and the Civil Air Patrol. All of his activities indicated
a desire to be part of a well functioning team. Personal glory was not his
goal, but rather the joy of a group of men, highly motivated to excellence
and dedicated to an interest which molded them into oneness. Later, this
desire manifested itself in Stev's intention to become part of the U.S. Army
Special Forces. The proudest day of Steve's life was when he was awarded his
After training, Stephen volunteered for Vietnam. He served as a demolition
and small arms expert on "A" team supported by a Provincial Unit of ARVN.
After six months of heavy combat, Geist was pulled back to a supporting
filed unit of the Special Forces.
There, SSG Geist 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, SSG Geist was responsible for
the training of indigenous SVN troops in the operation of heavy weapons -
machine guns, mortars, recoilless rifles, infantry tactics and training, and
camp defenses. He also accompanied troops on combat patrols.
His letters home to his family did not brag on 100 ways to kill, but rather
the thousands of ways he 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 from work. He never spoke in apathy of the Vietnamese, but rather the
courage of these people to be mutilated and die for their right to
self-determination ... free from fear or coercion.
On 25 September 1967, SSG Geist was the observer aboard an O1D 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 border
of Cambodia just north of Minh Thanh. This was the last radio communication
with the personnel aboard the O1D. 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.
The strategic location of the Special Forces Detachment A-332 camp at My
Thach was a thorn in the side of the VC and NVA. The Minh Thanh A Team camp
was located off Route 14 in Binh Long Province about 22 miles south of the
Cambodian border and 35 miles east of Tay Ninh (near by is Nui Ba Dinh
This area was heavily occupied by both local VC battalions and NVA troops,
who, at the time were entrenched in the heavily fortified strongholds north
of the Iron Triangle and close to the Fishhook area of Cambodia and South
Vietnam. This area was the site of Operation Junction City 1, February to
May 1967. Additionally, at this same period of time, many enemy troops were
pushing down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, infiltrating and preparing for the Tet
Offensive of 1968. It is highly likely that SSG Geist and Lt. Huddleston
overflew a concentration of enemy positions that the enemy did not want
Unfortunately, the families of MIAs are acutely cognizant of apathy. We
have seen this henious creature raise its head, spewing its deadly venom of
uncertainty and despair. Each unkind word, each unsympathetic ear drives yet
another nail into the country's coffin of ignominy. But if that hateful,
dreaded day arrives which ends our hopes and prayers, we will have known
that Steve accomplished something he wanted to do; he helped other human
beings; that he tried to preserve a nations' freedom; that his sacrifice for
Freedom is not merely a hackneyed nationalistic phrase; that he did his
best.....a good soldier that served his country with distinction.
I might also add that there have been two additions to his file that state
remains coming out of Cambodia. In 1988 recovery done just over the border
but was not Stephen or Lynn. There is also another addition stating (can't
remember the date) from a villager an 0D-1 went down in that area on the same
day. When the villagers arrived at the crash sight one was dead and the one
with the gun was executed. No grave site was located. This shows that
Stephen's search may now be expanded into Cambodia.
Stephen's memorial marker is placed in Andersonville, GA the old Civil War
POW Camp and the National X-POW Museum. In 1999 Stephen received a second
PH, this one for giving his life for his country. The Medal presentation was
performed with General (4 star) Thomas Schwartz, Commander of Army's Forces
Command Fort McPherson. General Schwartz wears Stephen's bracelet. A
grateful nation, at last, has given Stephen the honor he well deserves.
The first PH with V was awarded Stephen for wounds he received during the
battle of Tong Le Chon a remote Fire Base that was astride the Saigon River
close to Cambodia on the border of Bin Long and Tay Ninh Provinces. A major
NVA infiltrated the route. The camp was commanded by the Loc Lam Da Biet
(LLDB) Vietnamese Special Forces Team, SF counter parts.
The desertion rate amongst the CIDG was high owing to corruption within the
LLDB. On Aug 7, 1967 the camp was attacked by the 165 NVA Regiment.
Stephen's battle position was on the SE corner of an inner defense laterite
berm. He manned a machine gun. The attack started with a rocket and motor
attack destroying the POL dump. When Puff and Spooky arrived on station, the
area was illuminated and Gatling guns from a CH47 ringed the Camp with metal
rain holding the NVA at bay until dawn. At dawn the NA Thrang Mike force
arrived along with a Brigade from the 1st ID driving off the NVA.
During the day Stephen helped the Medical NCO conduct sick calls for the
soldiers and their families. He also carried out Civil Affairs projects
touching the lives of many civilians which included helping distribute the
weekly class A rations received via C-123 or C-7A aircraft from the Chinese
food contractor and paying soldiers.
MD Committee for POW/MIA Inc.
1700 Camden Ave
Salisbury MD 21801
From - Thu May 25 19:42:17 2000
Subject: Memorial Day letter to Editors
REMEMBER TO REMEMBER MAY 29,2000
At Arlington, three servicemen representing WW I and II, and the Korean
wars, are enshrined at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. All across America,
cemeteries are filled with military headstones marked "unknown". We don't
know their names or what they looked like. We'll never be able to thank
them for what they did for all of us.
The cynic perhaps would question the wisdom of those who went into battle
and lost their lives defending America, Was it really worth it?
Memorial Day is a day of flags, flowers and speeches. We visit memorials
and monuments to honor our war dead. We promise never to forget as the
lonely notes of "Taps" are played.
While it's a day to remember those whose lives were cut short, Memorial Day
also is for the living. It challenges us to pursue our destiny of shaping a
nation and world free from fear and want; it reminds us of our duty to
preserve and defend our nation's ideals of freedom, justice and government
by "We the people."
As an MIA family from Vietnam I continually have witnessed how you preserve
the memorials of those who have died serving our country. You proudly
display and wear the US Flag, not just on patriotic holidays but every day.
Each time I visit the "Wall", I see their faces, and hear their voices and
laughter from when they were young. I can hear their reply to the cynic,
for they alone have the answer: "It was worth it". It was entirely worth
the cost. Let's never forget the price they paid. Let's never forget to
Perhaps the most profound tribute of all was made on the first national
memorial observance in May 1868 by then-Gen. James A. Garfield when he said:
"They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of
men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus
resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue:"
Let us never forget to remember....they gave up all their tomorrows for our
Stephen Geist MIA 1967, Vietnam
"POOR IS THE NATION THAT HAS NO HEROES......SHAMEFUL IS THE ONE HAVING
REFERENCE: SSG STEPHEN JOHANTHAN GEIST (ref:0841)
FROM: Susan Geist Ragan
Maryland State & Regional II
Coordinator, National League
Of Families POW/MIA in SE Asia
During a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam by the JTFFA team, in regards to a crash
site a witness informed this team that he was not able advice them of the
case in which they were referring.
He did say that he remembers a crash of a small single engine plane (bird
dog) in the middle of September 67 about 4 miles from the Cambodian border.
This witness informed JTFFA that when the plane crashed it exploded with no
After three days they returned to the crash site and found two chard remains
still on board. They removed dog tags and one cross from the wreckage.
They left the remains on board and buried the plane so that rescue attempts
would not be made. (JYFFA asked for the tags but was informed that they had
be used to rub on their joints and been worn down years ago and discarded)
After locating the witness's cords on a map it was discovered that the only
plane to have gone down in that region during that month of September 67 was
the plane being flown by Air Force Lt. Lynne Huddleston with one passenger,
SSG Stephen J. Geist Army Special Forces. (0841)
JTFFA had requested twice during 2002, to return to this region with this
witness to try and located said crash. Due to the policy that Vietnam is
only allowing those cases to be LKA's (Last Known Alive) both request were
denied. for now.
While attending the National League of Families 2002 annual meeting I was
notified to contact the JTFFA team. When I arrived I was told that Ron Ward
would like to speak to me and to contact him when I arrived. (he was in the
He knew that I was deeply disappointed, especially after traveling all the
way to Hawaii last December to visit CILHI and JTFFA in regards to
Ron informed me that they would be returning to Vietnam in early 03 to work
on a case within that same zone. He informed me that Stephen's case would
be linked up with a LKA and not to loose faith. I in turn informed him,
after 35 years, the skin has gotten thicker and my patience has no end.
Susan Geist Ragan
"DYING FOR FREEDOM ISNT THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN...
BEING FORGOTTEN IS !"
MORE INFO 03/02/2011