THE FIGHTER

FU­ELED BY TENAC­ITY, GE­OFF REEVES CON­QUERS EV­ERY CHAL­LENGE, IN­CLUD­ING A DEV­AS­TAT­ING IN­JURY HE SUF­FERED AS A SEAL

Tactical World - - Contents - BY DOUG JEF­FREY | PHO­TOS BY GUS ALONZO & COURTESY OF GE­OFF REEVES

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.

DREAM FUL­FILL­MENT

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.

MORE SUC­CESS

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.

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