FUELED BY TENACITY, GEOFF REEVES CONQUERS EVERY CHALLENGE, INCLUDING A DEVASTATING INJURY HE SUFFERED AS A SEAL
We could tell you that Geoff Reeves is an extraordinary man; instead, we’ll let you read all about this retired U.S. Navy SEAL so you can see for yourself. By Doug Jeffrey
Geoff Reeves was enraged. He hated the world, the doctor, you, me and the impossible misfortune that somehow found him. After a Navy physician informed him that if he ever walked again it would be with the aid of a cane, anger and bitterness oozed from every pore.
“I was a Navy SEAL, 26 years old, 6 feet 3, athletic and I did not understand that,” recalled Reeves. “I became angry. Before I told him to get out of my room, I asked him, ‘Who the hell are you?’”
Reeves fixed his burning stare on the doctor as he walked out of the room. Alone with his thoughts on that fall morning, Reeves’ mind raced. He replayed the incident repeatedly in his head, as well as the conversation he just had with the physician.
“I knew the doctor could be right, but I could not comprehend what it would be like not to walk or to have to walk with a cane,” he said. “I thought, ‘Uh, uh. No way.’”
Geoff Reeves, U.S. Navy SEAL, was in for the fight of his life.
From a very young age, Reeves had a dream. As a youngster, his dad had taken him and his brother to an air show in Cleveland. While inside one of the buildings, Reeves looked up into the rafters and saw a Navy SEAL flag.
“I thought that was so cool,” said Reeves, who bought a book on the elite warriors the next day. “I read it from cover to cover, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. As a SEAL, you jump out of planes and blow stuff up. It was fantastic. You are the baddest of the bad. They never slept. They never ate. Who would not want to do that? I wanted to be that guy.”
That aspiration burned even hotter when some classmates fueled his fire.
“There were days I did not want to go back to school because kids made fun of me,” said Reeves, 39. “A lot of my desire [to become a SEAL] had to do with being made fun of and my desire to prove that I am better than what they said.”
He ultimately proved that big time, as he became “that guy.”
Life As A SEAL
After graduating from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Business, Pre-law, Reeves attended the Navy OCS (Officer Candidate School), where he earned his commission as a Navy officer. He then reported to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/seal) in California. He completed the intense training program with his original class, in which he was 1 of 29 out of a possible 165. Graduating from BUD/S provided Reeves’ greatest memory of his eight-year military career.
“I will never forget that elated moment,” he said. “I had never touched a trident until they pinned one on me. While looking at it, I just thought. ‘Holy s**t. All I thought about and what I had done … I made it.”
But it was not time to relax. Reeves is simply not wired that way.
“I planned to earn it [the trident] every single day,” he said.
Reeves reported to SEAL Team 10 and helped commission the new command.
“AS A SEAL, YOU JUMP OUT OF PLANES AND BLOW STUFF UP. IT WAS FANTASTIC. YOU ARE THE BADDEST OF THE BAD. THEY NEVER SLEPT. THEY NEVER ATE. WHO WOULD NOT WANT TO DO THAT?” —GEOFF REEVES
Working as an AOIC (Assistant Officer in Charge) of a platoon, he deployed overseas with 16 men, carrying out missions set forth by the upper echelon.
Looking back on his career as a SEAL, which is now more than a decade ago, Reeves said the entire experience went by “like the blink of an eye.”
“It was intense, awesome, grueling and it made me who I am today because of the mentality, drive and attention to detail that was required,” he said.
His teammates and their can-do attitude also remain with him.
“It was amazing to work with such incredible assets,” he said. “They are incredible, driven men who can do anything they put their minds to.”
As expected, the special bond and unparalleled memories made those years hard to get over for the Texas and Los Angeles resident.
“What I miss today is not having that mission or purpose when I get up, so that is why I do so much now,” he said. “I miss it every single day … the training that allowed us to go after bad guys who want to hurt America.”
But that time ended, albeit unexpectedly, and a new chapter unfolded.
A NEW ENDEAVOR
After separating from the Navy, Reeves took his determination and moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued an acting career. “While growing up, I was always interested in how they made movies and what goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “This career was in the back of my head. I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?’ So, I threw my hat into the ring.”
The transition was somewhat challenging because Reeves said he had “to find himself without the SEAL teams.” Eventually, he worked his way into Hollywood, where he discovered another challenge.
“Getting casted is the greatest
challenge in acting,” he said. “I have been told I don’t look like a Navy SEAL, I am too tall, too short, too good looking. There are times they do not even know what they want, and they are trying to tell me who I am.” Not unexpectedly, he overcame the challenges, and he has worked as an actor and host in numerous movies, television programs, commercials, webisodes and video games. Some of his credits include “Iron Man,” “Criminal Minds,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Love That Girl” and “Transformers.”
Wherever he goes, Reeves has earned respect and success. There also seems to be an underlying theme, regardless of what career he tackles.
Asked to describe himself, Geoff Reeves laughs.
“I am fortunate for that all the things I do for work,” said Reeves, who founded Shadow Works, a patriotic action sports brand company that has a professional skydiving team and racecar. “I work with amazing people who are friends. While I like new experiences, I am not an adrenaline junkie. Yes, I like to take risks and push the limits, but they are calculated—yet in the end, still very dangerous.” Some of that danger stems from his professional racecar driving. Reeves, who calls himself “an American living, red-white-and-blue bleeding guy who looks for intellectual debate,” has competed in the Grand Am Continental Tire and Pirelli World Challenge Series.
On that tragic fall morning during a Navy SEAL training session, Reeves encountered danger he never expected, as he came face-to-face with an unknown enemy.
THE WORLD TURNED
The training was set for the day. After running nine miles, Reeves joined his teammates for the scheduled six to eight skydives. A day that was not unlike 100 others was about to turn out unlike every other.
On the fourth jump, just 30 feet from the ground, things went terribly
“HE HATED THE WORLD, THE DOCTOR, YOU, ME AND THE IMPOSSIBLE MISFORTUNE THAT SOMEHOW FOUND HIM.”
wrong. A turbo prop plane kicked up “dirty” air (the prop wash/turbulence that occurs behind the engine) that collapsed his parachute, sending Reeves directly to earth.
“I smacked into the ground hard, and I crushed both feet,” said Reeves, adding the diagnosis was a bilateral calcanious fracture of his heels, requiring plates and screws in both feet.
After the first physician departed from
Reeves’ hospital room, the SEAL was left alone, except for an occasional visit from a nurse. Fighting off the thoughts of what life could be like drained Reeves.
And then Paul Girard showed up at his door. “Can I come in?” said Girard.
“I don’t care,” responded Reeves.
The physician walked in, sat down and looked Reeves in the eyes. A moment passed before they began to talk. Through tears, Reeves said, “Please just do your best, and I will take care of the rest.”
Before he locked onto that plan, Reeves gave himself 24 more hours to be angry.
“After that, I realized that this is going to be reality,” he said. “I lived alone, and I knew no one would want to help me if I were a jerk all the time. It was humbling.”
On minute one of day two, he set himself up for success and made a commitment to get better.
“I had a goal to get better, and I was going to prove them [the doctors] wrong,” he said.
For the next 30 days, Reeves was bedridden and in splints. From there, he moved into a wheelchair. While his hopes soared, his weight dropped. At six months, he hit 172, down from 215.
The physical therapy program, spearhead by Girard, Jason Jadgchew and Kirk Roper, followed.
“Within a year of standing up I had run a marathon,” said Reeves. “And I told the doctor that I had just run the San Diego marathon. He said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’”
While it was difficult for the original doctor to digest what Reeves had just told him, one thing is very clear.
“Don’t tell me I’m broke,” said Reeves. “I’ll prove you wrong.” TW
Above: This is a shot of Reeves when he was in the Navy and Officer in Charge of the Navy Parachute Demonstration Team. While jumping, he is re- enlisting a teammate for another four years in the Navy.
Right: Reeves is shown behind the wheel of the Shadow Works racecar.
Reeves said he is not an adrenaline junkie, but he says he does like to take risks and push the limits. Geoff Reeves spent eight years in the military, most of which were as a member of the U. S. Navy SEALS.
Reeves, far left, and his Shadow Works team perform parachute demonstrations. Among other locations, they skydive into Major League Baseball and National Football League stadiums.