Mark ‘Oz’ Geist is a Marine Corps. veteran and was a member of the Annex Security Team that fought in the Battle of Benghazi on September 11 and 12, 2016 in Libya. Geist, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, has also been invited by the Donald Trump campaign to attend the first Presidential Debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton on September 26.
Here is a look at Geist’s life and career.
1. Geist Endorsed Trump in February, Before the Republican Primaries Ended
In February, the Trump campaign announced that Geist and John ‘Tig’ Tiegen both endorsed the billionaire businessman for president.
“I am truly honored to have the support of these American heroes, the best of their generation,” Trump said. “The American people can know with certainty, I will always place their interest above all else. I am the most militaristic person and it is so important to me to strengthen our military and protect American families and freedoms.”
We, perhaps more than any Americans, know the absolute and imperative reason that we elect Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. First and foremost, under a Trump administration, the request for additional security by an ambassador would have been heeded, and second, there is no question, when the attack came,he would have moved heaven and earth to provide the necessary forces to protect and reinforce our warriors. Mr. Trump is the bold, decisive leader America needs at this time”. Oz added, “Under President Trump, many conflicts will be avoided because our enemies will fear the United States and our military.
2. Geist’s Grandfather Was a Tank Commander in Patton’s Army During World War II
In a May 2016 interview with Truth Revolt editor Mark Tapson, Geist explained his family’s long history in the military. He said his grandfather served as a tank commander in General George S. Patton’s army during World War II and had five Purple Hearts. He also has three uncles who served in the military. One was in the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. Another spent 28 years in the Navy. His third uncle did four years in the Navy.
When I was young, when I went to kindergarten I think it was, my mom had bought this little book. It had a little folder in it you put your school picture in and then on the back it said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and it had for boys and for girls. You could mark either a dentist or a doctor and then on the other side it had soldier or fireman, and when I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a soldier. And all the way up through probably fifth grade I was either a soldier or a fireman or a police officer. Luckily I’ve gotten to do all of those throughout my life. I’ve got those checked off my bucket list, but that took me in when I grew up in a small town.
Geist said that a friend suggested they join the Marine Corps. just before he graduated from college. He spent 12 years in the Marine Corps. before he decided to become a police officer so he could stay closer to his wife and young son. However, he said, he still got a divorce and then decided to become a bounty hunter because “I thought that would be fun,” he told Tapson.
Geist still had “that sense of service,” so in 2004, he went to Iraq to work as contract security. According to his Premiere Speakers Bureau bio, he worked with other security fims in Iraq and was an adviser for the Personal Security Detail of Dr. Ayad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister.
Geist’s last job as a security contractor was in Benghazi, where he worked under contract for Global Response Staff.
3. Geist & the Other Survivors of Benghazi Have Been Critical of the Local CIA Chief & Says They Ignored Chief’s Order to ‘Stand Down’
In the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, which was the basis for Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Geist and the other security team members who survived the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi were critical of “Bob,” the local CIA annex chief.
The real identity of the CIA officer has not been revealed, but the Daily Beast reported in 2013 that he was honored by the CIA in a secret ceremony.
Tiegen, Geist and the other team members had a combative relationship with “Bob” and they claim he told them to “stand down” during the attack and they went into action anyway, leavign the annex for the outpost. In an interview with The American Spectator, Tiegen and Geist said that the delay cost the lives of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
“I strongly believe that if we had left immediately, they’d still be alive. They didn’t die of gunshot wounds or knife stabbing,” Tiegen said. “They died of smoke inhalation. And that takes time. It’s not something that just happens in a split second. Their house was on fire. Every second counts. Firefighters know every second counts. So, yeah, it directly impacted their deaths.”
“I wasn’t there at the time that the stand down order was given, but in any emergency situation, every second is critical,” Giest told the American Spectator. “And how you use that time is critical. And to save those five people there and the 20-plus people at the Annex, the time had to be used in a very efficient manner. With the delay, I think we’re lucky that they all didn’t die.”
During his RNC speech alongside Teigen, Geist said that they “defied stand down orders” during the attack.
Politifact rated this as “mostly false,” based on the Republican report on Benghazi. The site notes that in his testimony, the CIA officer said that he told the GRS team to wait so he could get a gun truck for them and the delay “wasn’t 10 minutes, or five minutes.” The base’s deputy chief also told the Republican committee investigating the attack that the only people who were in a discussion about how to respond to the attack were himself, “Bob” and the GRS team leader. Team members did tell the committee that they were told to hold off on immediately responding to the attack.
Politifact notes that there is still some debate over whether the term “stand down” was ever used in the situation, and if it was, it was only said to have the team wait for more information to be gathered before they acted.
The term stand down means “a temporary cessation of offensive actions” or “cease-fire.”
4. Geist & His Wife Krystal Are the Founders of Shadow Warriors, an Organization That Supports Contractors & Their Families
Geist and his wife Krystal founded Shadow Warriors Project, an organization that supports contractors and their families.
“Our goal with the Shadow Warriors Project is to create a better everyday life for as many American contractors and their families as possible,” the Geists wrote. “We decided to start SWP when Mark returned home from an incredibly dangerous operation. He was hurt both mentally and physically and we wished there was a system that could have helped us repair.”
They noted that Geist had two years of surgeries and rehabilitation after Benghazi and realized that there was no support for contractors. “We can do better, we must do better for those that choose to continue serving our beloved country and in doing so become injured or killed in that service. We want the contractor and his family to not have to worry, should the unthinkable occur,” the couple wrote.
5. Geist Was Played by Max Martini in ’13 Hours’ & He Met With the Actor in Malta
Actor Max Martini played Geist in Michael Bay’s film adaptation of 13 Hours. First, the two met over the phone, but eventually met in person in Malta. Maritini told Maxim that the two of them look like brothers and they tried to trick Bay by having Geist replace Martini in a scene.
“Mark’s arm was blown up at the forearm and eventually saved. He graciously talked me through that,” Martini told Maxim. “Mark was absolutely incredible and so generous in working with me. Right away he made it clear that no questions were out of bounds. Eventually, he arrived in Malta, and we met in person in the lobby of our hotel. Ironically, we look like brothers.”