Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Army Pfc. Geoffrey A. Whitsitt

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Geoffrey A. Whitsitt, 21, of Taylors, S.C.

Pfc. Whitsitt was assigned to the 118th Military Police Company (Airborne), 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne), 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Jan. 13, 2010 at Combat Outpost McClain, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Daniel D. Merriweather.

There had been two yellow ribbons tied around a tree in front of Steve and Debbie Whitsitt’s home near Travelers Rest, one for each of their sons serving in the Middle East. A black ribbon has gone up in place of one of those bright symbols of love and longing.

Pvt. First Class Geoffrey Whitsitt won’t be coming home. He was killed when the Army Humvee he was driving hit a homemade bomb in Afghanistan, his father said.

His brother Steven, a sailor stationed in the Persian Gulf, is expected home by Sunday for the funeral.

His parents, relying on their faith, said Geoffrey is really at home now, with God, and find comfort in knowing their son died having no regrets.

“We know that yesterday morning sometime he went from the battlefield in Afghanistan and the next instant he was in the loving arms of his savior,” his father said.

Two weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, Geoffrey was living his lifelong dream, his father said.

“Geoff knew at four years old he wanted to be a soldier, and he never waivered from that,” he said.

His goal was to become an Army Ranger, Whitsitt said.

“He had a warrior spirit,” according to his mother.

But above all, he was driven by the desire to help others and to serve God, she said.

“He loved his life. He loved his friends. There is nothing that I can think of that I would have wanted differently in how he lived his life,” she said. “He loved God.”

Geoffrey grew up in the country and loved to run through the woods and fields around his home, his dad said.

“He was my fishing buddy and my friend,” he said.

He was homeschooled until 10th grade and graduated from Greenville Tech Charter High in 2007.

Principal Fred Crawford said he made the announcement about Whitsitt’s death late in the day and plans to have counselors on hand today for students who need help.

“Our school is so small, everybody knows everybody,” he said. “It’s a huge loss. It’s certainly heartbreaking news. He’s part of the family.”

Whitsitt was one of five graduates of the charter school now serving in the military in the Middle East, Crawford said. Students planned to send care packages to their former classmates.

The Army hadn’t released any information on Whitsitt’s death by late Thursday, although an officer from Fort Gordon, Ga., which is handling the funeral arrangements, met with the family in the afternoon.

Funeral arrangements hadn’t been completed, the family said.

Steve Whitsitt said he and his wife had just walked out to the front porch of their home on Marsh Creek Road to have lunch Wednesday when a government vehicle pulled up.

“We knew as soon as we saw the first one get out of the car that it was not going to be good news,” he said.

They had known that their son was in a very dangerous situation. He had been involved in a firefight in October and lost some of his friends in that encounter.

“We knew it was something that could happen,” he said.

For now, the Whitsitts are relying on their faith to get them through the loss of their youngest son. Their grief is overshadowed only by their pride.

“Geoff was a remarkable young man,” his father said. “He will be sorely missed by a lot of people. But he will inspire a lot of people also.”

Army Pfc. Geoffrey A. Whitsitt was killed in action on 1/13/10.

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