South African-born 149th Infantry Regiment soldier serves proudly as American citizen

Story by: Staff Sgt. Paul Evans, 77th Sustainment Brigade

Kentucky Guardsmen 2nd Lt. Andre Geertseema of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment (photo by U.S. Army)

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – One could say 2nd Lt. Andre Geertseema of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command is a minority within a minority.

Geertseema was born and raised for 10 years in South Africa before living in Australia for another three and coming to Lexington, Ky., at the age of 13. He is part of a small percentage of foreign-born U.S. citizens serving in the military, which is a small contingent within the U.S. in its own right.

After his father took a job at the University of Kentucky directing an energy research project, Geertseema chose to join the Army.

Since joining the Army as an enlisted infantry soldier in 2006, Geertseema assisted with logistics at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center during the 2009 ice storm and recently graduated from Officer Candidate School in 2010. As the 149th Inf. Regt.’s battalion signal officer, Geertseema ensures, with the help of his enlisted personnel, that the unit’s computers and radios work in the present and continue to do so in the future.

Regarding Geertseema’s job skills, Sgt. Maj. Phillip Pack, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of 149th Inf. Regt.’s operations, offers high praise for Geertseema, calling him “one of the most technically proficient junior officers I’ve ever worked with.”

In civilian life, Geertseema is studying for a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Kentucky. Being in the Army, Geertseema said he enjoys the “high-speed training we get paid to do” and getting to serve with people who are genuinely interested in helping others.

“Having the honor of deploying with the battalion where I first enlisted is great,” he said.

In the end, it would seem honor should be what lies at the heart all the 149th Inf. Regt. Soldiers serving here in Iraq.

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