Class of 1978
Lackey High School alum, SMAC track record holder still has local ties
By AJ MASON, Staff writer
Anyone who listens to 1978 Lackey High School graduate Darren Geary’s life story knows that it features many chapters.
The latest chapter will be closing, as Geary will retire after 28 years of dedicated government service as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on Wednesday.
NCIS is the primary security, counterintelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement agency of the United States Department of the Navy.
NCIS special agents are armed federal law enforcement investigators who frequently coordinate with other U.S. government agencies and are supported by analysts and other experts skilled in disciplines such as forensics, surveillance, surveillance countermeasures, computer investigations, physical security and polygraph examinations.
“For 28 years I found terrorists, put criminals in jail, traveled the world, and the NCIS is an amazing organization,” Geary said. “With the NCIS TV show on CBS now it has so much popularity, and the agents deploy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the armed services. We deploy aircraft carriers to protect the sailors and marines out there, along with working investigations. It’s just an amazing field, so after doing 28 years of the same thing, it’s going to be an adjustment not carrying a gun or badge every day. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”
The next chapter in Geary’s life will be working for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, and spending more time with his wife, Tara, daughter, Sadie, 8, and stepdaughter, Kayla, 18.
Geary and his family currently reside in Loudoun County, Va., while his parents, Betty and Herbert, reside in Bryans Road where he grew up.
“It’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my time in Charles County and at Lackey High School,” said Geary, who still has local ties with Lackey. “I loved my four years there, I think about them all the time. I’m a part of the Lackey alumni website and I see what the teams, the athletic programs, are doing, and I try to stay in contact through the administration and Lackey home page, Facebook and that type of thing. I want to come down and watch the football games this fall.”
The Lackey chapter was stellar for Geary, who won the state championship as a junior in the 600-meter run during indoor track and field season and once set the state outdoor record in the 800, coming across the finish line in 1 minute 51.7 seconds.
Five years later, Northern’s Rodney Giles broke Geary’s state record with a time of 1:51.0, which still stands in the record books today.
Geary still holds the SMAC outdoor record in the 800 with a time of 1:55.10, which he set as a senior.
“Records are meant to be broken and I hope someday that some young man from Lackey can break it,” Geary said. “It’s nice to maintain it, but I would rather a young man come along and do that. I would like to meet that young man when that happens.”
Larry Johnson, former legendary head football and track coach at McDonough and current assistant football coach at Penn State, was a former track coach for Lackey as well and coached Geary.
Geary, who also played basketball and football at Lackey, pointed out as a freshman that he threw the pole vault, but it never got off the ground. Johnson asked Geary if he can run and Geary said, “I think so.”
“Coach Johnson put me in the B heat my freshman year in the 800 and I beat the A heat time, and so coach Johnson knew I had the talent,” said Geary, who was a two-time state champion in the 800. “Coach Johnson said, ‘Well, I guess you found your niche.”’
As a sophomore in high school, Geary, who also played football for former head coach Charles Gibson, tore his ACL in the right knee at running back, and the doctors said that he never would play sports again.
“I never thought I would be able to do anything anymore,” Geary said. “I just worked hard and trained and strengthened my legs up. So, I came back strong my junior year and senior year on the football [field] and on the track.”
After graduation, Geary then was hired as a special agent with NCIS.
“I ran in some tremendous venues and some exciting track meets,” he said. “I was an All-American twice and I used to hang with Dan Marino, who was also at Pitt at the time.”
In 1984, Special Agent Geary began his career with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Norfolk, Va.
After a year on the job, he deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43).
Geary, now 51, recalled his afloat tour as one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences during his NCIS career. Seeing firsthand the air operations targeted at Libya, Geary developed a new admiration and respect for the sailors and Marines for their operational readiness and professionalism.
Particularly memorable experiences for Geary included participating in the John Walker espionage investigation. His afloat tour successfully negotiated and talked down a potential suicide jumper from a 150-foot-high bridge superstructure, while supervising a barricaded hostage standoff in Hawaii for 30 hours.
“I had a great career and had a lot of memories in sports,” Geary said. “Hopefully, I can inspire young men and women to set goals and follow their dreams.”
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