BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Bowling Green Police Department Sgt. Geoffrey Gleitz sees his service with the police department as an extension of the public service he began as a teen in the military.
Gleitz, a 1996 graduate of Bowling Green High School, attended college for a short time before deciding he needed “direction and some discipline” in his life and decided to join the U.S. Army in 1998.
“It was good for me,” he said.
Gleitz’ first assignment after training landed him in Baumholder, Germany.
While in Europe in 1999, he deployed to Tirana, Albania, where his infantry group conducted route reconnaissance for movement into Kosovo.
“We established observation points and security points for counter battery artillery radar,” Gleitz said.
Counter battery artillery observation provided coordinates to position NATO airstrikes on the Serbian army, which was shelling the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Gleitz then worked a short stint providing security at humanitarian refugee camps.
After his service in the Army, Gleitz joined the Kentucky Army National Guard in 2001. At that time, he had decided he wanted to return to college. Then on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States and Gleitz expected to be called into duty. Instead, it wasn’t until 2002 when he was mobilized and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Bosnia.
“It was interesting to experience the Balkan region again and to see what our Bosnian refugees came from,” he said, referring to Bowling Green’s refugee community.
He spent six months in training before leaving for Bosnia and six months on the ground in Bosnia. Gleitz returned from deployment and once again hoped to complete his college degree until he was called to service, this time in Afghanistan. It was during his service in Afghanistan when Gleitz earned a Bronze Star.
“Our mission was to train and mentor the Afghan national army,” he said.
“It was an eye-opening experience to see a culture that has known war their entire life and known occupying other countries,” he said.
Afghanistan is also like a time warp.
“It’s like going back 7,500 years, subsistence farming and subsistence living in general,” he said.
While the improvised explosive devices threat wasn’t as widespread as it was in Iraq, soldiers were still “extremely hyper aware” of their surroundings, he said.
“When I was there the IED threat was very localized. It wasn’t like Iraq where they were everywhere,” he said.
But the land presented both challenges and dangers.
“Because of the terrain, you’re always at a disadvantage,” he said. “You are always at the low ground. You would drive by old blown-up Soviet equipment. A lot of times they did shoot at you from those same spots.”
He remained in Afghanistan for 12 months. During his overseas deployments, he served alongside people who were police officers and saw that as a good professional option.
“I saw that as an easy transition with my military background, and as a way to continue service but at a local level,” he said.
On June 11, 2007, Gleitz became a Bowling Green police officer. Gleitz is still active in the National Guard, where his current rank is 1st sergeant of the 1123rd Sapper Co. in Leitchfield.
“The Army or service in general can open up a lot of doors for you,” he said. “Ultimately your success is going to depend on your actions and how you perform.”
Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com