Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colorado.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dietz died while conducting counter-terrorism operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Coalition forces located the sailor while conducting a combat search and rescue operation July 4, 2005 in Kunar Province. Dietz’s whereabouts had been unknown since June 28, 2005. He was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Less than three years after joining the military as a teenager, Danny Dietz reported for duty at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base as a Navy SEAL. It was November 2001; Dietz was 21 and single then. The U.S. had been fighting in Afghanistan barely a month.

On Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced that Dietz, a petty officer 2nd class assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two at Little Creek, died in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. He is survived by his wife, Maria, of Virginia Beach; his parents; and two siblings.

“Although I was not ready to let God take him away from me, I know my husband gave all he could to make his way back to me,” Maria Paz Leveque Dietz said in a written statement. “He probably wouldn’t have wanted to die any other way, but only trying to protect his fellow teammates and his country.”

Deployed to Afghanistan in April, Dietz, 25, was part of a four-man special operations reconnaissance team that encountered resistance last week while searching for Taliban-led rebels and al-Qaida fighters in a rugged mountain area. A Chinook helicopter carrying reinforcements responded to the team’s call for back-up on June 28.

The helicopter never got there. Officials say it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 U.S. military members on board.

Five Virginia Beach-based SEALs – Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, Lt. Cmdr. Erik Kristensen, and Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, all assigned to SEAL Team 10 at Little Creek – perished in the crash.

A combat search and rescue team found the bodies of Dietz and Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Monday, according to the Defense Department. A third team member has been rescued; the fourth is still unaccounted for.

Through a family representative, Maria Dietz, who lives in the Strawbridge section of Virginia Beach, declined to speak to reporters.

According to a March 5, 2003, article in the Jet Observer, the base newspaper at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Maria Dietz served as an aviation maintenance administrator with Fighter Squadron 11 at Oceana. The article said she and Danny were to marry later that month.

“I want the world to know that Danny P. Dietz was not just my husband, but he was my other half, my friend, my role model, and my hero,” her statement read. “The same day he left for Afghanistan, as tears rolled down my cheeks, he told me with sparkles in his eyes, 'All the training I have underwent for years is going to pay off with this trip, and I am going to do something special for this country and for my team.’”

Dietz grew up in Colorado, graduating from Heritage High School in Littleton in 1999. A spokeswoman for the city’s school system, Diane Leiker, released a statement Wednesday that high school teachers remembered Danny Dietz talking about his plans to join the Navy and become a SEAL.

He played football his senior year, she said, and spent a lot of time lifting weights and swimming to prepare himself for the Navy. After becoming a SEAL, he returned to Heritage for a visit and walked the halls in his uniform.

A neighbor said Maria Dietz no longer serves in the Navy, but her own words make it clear she relished her role as a military spouse.

“I want the world to know that it has lost an incredible man, an outstanding Navy SEAL, and a hero. People around the world don’t hear much about the U.S. Naval Special Forces men and what they do for this country, but as a proud SEAL Team wife, I can tell that the world as a whole owes those men more than it can imagine,” she said in her statement. “I just don’t have words to describe them.”

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz was killed in action on 06/28/05.