Mike de Geus, Special Agent Turned Entrepreneur

Mike de Geus, Special Agent Turned EntrepreneurBruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review.

The only Burroughs graduate to be sworn into the United States Secret Service as a Special Agent, Mike de Geus (BHS 1994) recently left the Presidential Protection Detail (PPD) to concentrate on his many business ventures. At Burroughs, Mike was co-editor of the 1994 yearbook with Karen Zwierzchowski. It had a swimming theme. Karen was a Burroughs CIF swimmer and, in college, a water polo player. Both Mike and Karen were local lifeguards.

Mike comes from a “band of brothers” dedicated to service. Older brother Brad (BHS 1991), best known for his service as a local California Highway Patrolman, started his service with the US Coast Guard. Younger brother John de Geus, M.D. (BHS 1997), is a US Navy doctor in general practice. Next younger brother Peter (BHS 1999) saw service as US Marine in Afghanistan and later as a Riverside County Deputy Sherriff. Youngest brother James (BHS 2000) first served in the US Air Force and now serves with the US Space Force.

Mike graduated from Cerro Coso in 1996 and CSU Fullerton in 1998 with a degree in Criminal Justice and is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy, specializing in Homeland Security. Captain America fans can watch Mike making an arrest at the end of Winter Soldier. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Mike is occasionally surprised by a small “mailbox” (residual) check.

Before reporting to the Secret Service Academy in 2010, Mike traveled the world and explored numerous fields of work. Just prior to entering the academy, Mike was renovating houses in Las Vegas. Upon completing his eleven-month training and being sworn as a Special Agent, Mike was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office as a cyber fraud investigator, which introduced him to numerous Hollywood stars. One interesting assignment was protecting Malia Obama when she summer interned on Halle Berry’s television set in Culver City.

“The US Secret Service is one of America’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies, originally created in 1865 by President Lincoln, not for presidential protection, but to stamp out rampant counterfeiting to stabilize America’s financial system, as nearly one-third of post-Civil War currency was fraudulent. After the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, the Secret Service was tasked with the full-time protection of the President of the United States. Teddy Roosevelt, America’s youngest president, was the first president to receive Secret Service protection. Likely a daunting challenge for the Special Agents to corral the “Rough Rider” president.

Although likely familiar with the Special Agents, dressed in suits, wearing sunglasses and the iconic ear piece, one might not know that US Secret Service has a Uniformed Division responsible to protect the White House Complex, the Naval Observatory (Vice President’s residence) and the embassies in Washington, D.C. The combined forces of the US Secret Service, along with local law enforcement agencies, provide protection services to “National Special Security Events,” such as the United Nations General Assembly and even the Super Bowl.” (US Secret Service website)

While assigned to the Los Angeles Office, Mike and his colleagues were primarily assigned to investigations, yet provided protection to the US President and other dignitaries when visiting the greater Los Angeles area. During the presidential election cycle, typically starting in February of the election year, Special Agents spend essentially an entire year on the road with the candidates. Advance teams “scout” the motorcade routes and venues, while other agents travel with the candidates, often alternating the roles. Mike experienced two election cycles, first assigned to Paul Ryan and then Mike Pence.

In 2017, Mike was assigned to the Presidential Protection Detail (PPD) and with family in tow, moved to Northern Virginia for daily drives to the White House or to the home of his protectee, typically the Chief of Staff to the US President. Mike’s longest assignment with the PPD was with Chief of Staff, General John Kelly. With that assignment, Mike either drove General Kelly to the White House or protected his residence overnight in the driveway in zero-degree Northern Virginia winter weather. The Kelly family and the de Geus family remain close friends. Mike’s last series of assignments were undercover, embedded in the crowds. His last assignment took him to Florida with President Trump, where he observed a NASA and SpaceX manned mission to the space station, the first launch in over a decade from American soil. “Being a Secret Service Special Agent is a deadly serious privilege, peppered with some incredibly interesting experiences.” (Mike de Geus)

Always an entrepreneur at heart, Mike considered his time with the US Secret Service as the ultimate privilege and his high school dream fulfilled. In 2020, after ten years of service, Mike “retired” and is now laser focused on his business ventures. While working in the Los Angeles office, Mike was stuck in traffic on the 405, when the breaking radio news was that of an active shooter on the UCLA campus. Stuck in traffic and unable to respond to the campus to assist, he began thinking about what could help protect students and the general public from active shooters. His answer: a backpack, but not just any backpack. Virtually every student wears a backpack, but what if the backpack could be split in two and deployed to cover the torso, both front and back with armored panels? With four United States Patents (“Combined Carriers and Protective Vests”), Leatherback Gear, the “World’s Safest Backpack” was conceived. I have two, which double as my emergency “go bags.”

A constant thinker, when the pandemic hit and hospitals were overwhelmed and teachers were forced into the totally unfamiliar world of virtual instruction, Mike created Help Everyone Remain Operational (HERO) Beverage Company, “You Buy, We Give.” As example, “With your purchase of Schoolhouse Blend we will donate our coffee to local schools for its teachers to enjoy as a thank you for all that they do.” (From numerous interviews with Mike de Geus)

Mike is our son-in-law, married to our daughter Amy (BHS 1994). Mike and Amy have three children, Avery (Hillygus), Dylan and Rylee Ann. Marta, an exchange student from Spain, is living with the de Geus family this school year.

Courtesy photo: The de Geus family attending the 2019 White House holiday reception for U.S. Secret Service Special Agents serving on the Presidential Protection Detail.

Story First Published: 2021-12-24