The sound of Taps mournfully resounded across the hills of Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Greenville, S.C. as Geoffrey Alexander Whitsitt was laid to rest this afternoon. This ended a lifelong dream of a young man who was born on February 5, 1988, in Travelers Rest, S.C. As a young boy growing up, he often voiced his desire to serve in the military. His brother, Steven, serves in the U.S. Navy; Geoff served in the U.S. Army.
Geoff was one of two soldiers killed Wednesday, January 13, when their vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device at Combat Outpost McClain in central Afghanistan’s Logar province, south of Kabul. He was assigned to the 118th Military Police Company (Airborne), 503rd Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
The back of the bulletin at the funeral reads as follows: “Geoff was a believer. He was a believer in America and a believer in the King of all creation, a citizen of the freest, most blessed land in the world, and a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
“Geoff wanted that kingdom to come. He prayed for that kingdom to come. He worked for that kingdom to come. He served for that kingdom to come. In the end, he went there before the invisible became visible here.
“He will always live in the hearts of his mom and dad. They love him, led him, admired him, and gave him up for the rest of us. Their gift reminds us of the gift of all gifts- a Father who had sovereign control over all aspects of His Son’s substitutionary death, and who gave Him up for us all.
“Geoff lives in the nail-pierced hands of that Savior, and no one can snatch him out of those hands”
These paragraphs closed with these words taken from of a note which he had handwritten:
“Gotta go. Love you guys! Love, Geoff “
In the homegoing celebration which was held for Geoff, a special resolution was read by the Honorable Bob Inglis, U.S. Congressman from Greenville, S.C. Moving testimonies were given by his mom and dad, and his brother, Steve. Steve, who serves in the Navy, admonished those in the audience who had never accepted the Lord as Savior to do so today. A special friend and buddy in the army, Ryan McClymonds, gave a fitting tribute to one who served with him in the Army.
One of the things which his father said will always remain in my memory: he and Geoff were conversing by phone a short while ago. Geoff told his father that he had killed a man. The thought that went through his mind was “I have killed someone’s daddy.” Even in war, Geoff was tenderhearted. This is so sad, but it is a fact of war. I have often wondered what a soldier goes through when he is faced with the reality of pulling the trigger when a man is in the site at the end of the rifle barrel.
Geoff was buried in a special section at Woodlawn Memorial Park reserved for men and women who have served in the military. Two parts of the committal service were especially moving: (1) the folding of the flag. I wonder what thoughts were going through the minds of Geoff’s parents, Steve & Debby Whitsitt, as they watched the soldiers in military precision folding up the flag which had covered Geoff’s casket; (2) the 21 gun salute- a fitting tribute to a young man who had given his all for us. With that, he was laid to rest.
In all my years, this was the first military funeral which I had ever attended. The military precision, the sharp looking young men, and the camaraderie of those serving our country together, made me feel proud and grateful. While it was terribly sad realizing that a young man’s life had been snuffed out, it was also a joyous occasion knowing that his was a life well-lived. I am sorry that I never had the privilege of knowing him in this life, however, I knew his grandfather, Harry Bains.
Geoff died in the service at a younger age than I was when I served in the U.S. Air Force. He was 21 and would have been 22 on February 5, 2010. I was 22 when I joined the Air Force in November of 1956. Ever since I had the distinct privilege and honor of serving my country and my God in military service, I have always deeply admired our young men and women who unselfishly give themselves to fighting for and defending our rights and freedoms. I get very upset when I hear people speaking disparagingly of our military men and women. If I could live my life again, and if the Lord would allow me, I would gladly give my life in service as a military man. I think that serving in the military is the one of the finest thing a young person can do.
What a sobering fact to realize that when we moved to Greenville in June of 1988, Geoff was a babe of four months in his mother’s arms. Now at age 21, he lies in the arms of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, but his body lies entombed in the cold red clay of the Carolinas. There, awaiting the call of the trumpet and the resurrection, his body lies in repose, but his spirit has departed to be forever with the Lord.
Are we mindful every day of the supreme sacrifice which hundreds of young men and women have made for us?
Written by Mel Lacock, a fellow classmate who graduated with me from Bob Jones University in 1956