Dan Geraghty was born in 1975 and grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, with his parents. His father worked in the city and commuted to Manhattan every day, and his mother stayed at home for much of his childhood before taking a job with Suffolk County. He considers his parents, his Uncle Henry, and his church youth group as some of the most important influences on his life. He graduated from high school in 1993, took a year to figure out what he wanted to do while taking classes at a community college, and in 1995 began college at Hofstra. He was drawn to ROTC, and accepted a challenge from the PMS (Professor of Military Science), LTC Steve Arata, to participate in the program. Dan was driven to succeed and worked hard to rise up the OML (Order of Merit List) so he could get the schools and assignments he wanted. He was able to complete Air Assault and Airborne School, and he earned an Infantry slot upon graduation. While at Hofstra, he majored in English, and considers Professor Marilyn Hacker an important role model and mentor. After graduation and commissioning, his focus was on completing Ranger School, and he spent much of the Infantry Basic Course preparing for that crucible. After earning his Ranger Tab, he was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, in the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, New York. His platoon earned the honor of participating in an exchange program and partnership mission in Chile, culminating in a training mission at 15,000 feet above sea level in the Atacama Desert. He was married in 2001, and a desire for a stable family life influenced him to transition to the National Guard, serving first in New York and then Connecticut. He initially took a job with Verizon. Seeking upward mobility within the company, he was scheduled for a job interview at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was delayed by 10 minutes after spilling coffee on his new suit, and arrived just as the first plane impacted. After witnessing the carnage, his training took over, and he was able to board what was probably the last train out of the city, immediately calling his wife on a borrowed cell phone. After arriving home, he reported to his National Guard unit and quickly began responding to the crisis, a response that eventually became Operation Noble Eagle. Currently, he is teaching High School English in Connecticut, and has written a book, “Cast Away Stones,” that describes his life’s story.
In this interview, Dan talks about his childhood, his college experiences, his service in the Army, September 11th, and his role as an educator. He highlights his stories with accounts of the individuals who were important in his life. He vividly describes the shock and terror of witnessing the attack on the World Trade Center, and how his Army training influenced his subconscious response to the situation. He describes his Post Traumatic Stress and explores how the process of writing “Cast Away Stones” helped him come to grips with what he experienced on that day. Finally, he reflects on his service.