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October 29, 2006

D.J. Dietz – You Will Never Be Forgotten

by @ 1:12 am. Filed under Troop Support, True Heroes

Friday, September 29, President Bush gave a speech to the Reserve Officers Association on the occasion of the visits by President Karzai of Afghanistan, and President Musharraf of Pakistan. He praised the efforts of both leaders in the War on Terror and the commitment and bravery of U.S. troops, including two Navy SEALs who were posthumously honored recently with the Navy Cross, the Nation’s second highest military award.

I think of two Navy SEALs named Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz. In June of 2005, they were part of a SEAL team operating deep in the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill or capture a Taliban leader. They were discovered, and they were soon surrounded in a mountain ravine by 30 to 40 Taliban fighters. During the firefight that ensued, Axelson urged an injured teammate to escape, and he provided cover before suffering a mortal wound. Fighting nearby, his partner Dietz was also mortally wounded, but he too stood his ground and kept firing until finally, he finally died.

Because of the courage of Petty Officers Axelson and Dietz, their wounded teammate made it out alive. For their heroism, these two Petty Officers were awarded the Navy Cross. But I want you to hear what Petty Officer Dietz’s wife said about her husband and his comrades in arms. She said, “Danny and his brothers went toward evil and ran forward and gave their last breath.”

Warrior D.J.

It’s difficult to find words to adequately describe someone whose bravery and dedication go above and beyond anything you’d likely see in your daily life, let alone in your entire life. What makes a man into a hero? What gives him the courage to voluntarily be dropped into a nightmare with no hope of waking up to find it was only a dream? The only way out is to finish the job, and he knows it doesn’t always end with the good guys coming home safe and sound. Sometimes, no matter how much you’ve trained or how well you’ve planned, the monsters win. What kind of man looks at those lousy odds and says “that’s for me”?

We can have confidence in the outcome of the war on terror — because our nation is determined. We’ve done this kind of hard work before, and we have succeeded. And we can be confident because we’ve got incredible men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. I am constantly amazed at the incredible courage that our fellow citizens who wear the uniform show on a regular basis. –George W. Bush

Those incredible citizens were encouraged by friends and loved ones and mentored by the best Americans trained in the past, but first they were raised and taught by incredible parents. The following is a heartfelt tribute by a mother to her warrior son.


You Will Never Be Forgotten.
By Cindy Dietz
Mother of Petty Officer 2nd Class, Navy Seal, Seal Delivery Team Two Danny Phillip Dietz Jr.
January 26, 1980 – June 28, 2005

On June 28, 2005 we lost our hero – beloved son, brother, brother-in-law, grandson, and husband. He will forever be in our hearts and souls until we meet again in the heavens above.

We want D.J. to be remembered for the amazing and caring and full of life person he was and is. He always strived to be the best in everything he did and achieved everything to the best of his abilities. D.J. was very strong willed and that is who he needed to be to become the hero we all have come to admire and love.

Toddler

D.J. and his sister Tiffany could have been twins. They were very close and they shared the kind of unique, private way of communicating that such a bond creates. He was a very protective but very loving older brother. They were always together not only in childhood but were inseparable in their teen years as well.

D.J. and Tiffany loved their little brother Eric. They very much babied him most of the time, but would sometimes gang up on him thinking they were only making him tough. Eric looked up to D.J. and he was definitely his role model while growing up.

Highschool

D.J. came home from one of his deployments when Eric was in a terrible car accident. He broke his neck in the same type of injury as Christopher Reeve. The medical staff let D.J. stay with his brother, and D.J. did not leave Eric’s bedside the whole time he was in intensive care. We were told he would never walk again but Eric kept telling his brother “I will walk again,” and after his surgery he did. We never questioned what D.J. told his little brother but we believe whatever it was he gave him the strength to walk again.

Eric is now going to run a marathon in honor of his brother D.J., something only his brother and God above can see him through with all the family and friends supporting him.

D.J. was our first born. We learned through him the true meaning of love. He was such a joy to us and we felt blessed with such a beautiful and loving infant. Through his childhood, teen and adult years we as parents were thankful to our heavenly father for giving him to us and though we were not perfect parents, we did the best we could in raising such an amazing hero. We are very proud of our son’s accomplishments and thankful for the time, though cut short, he was here on earth. The love we shared was and is the true meaning of what love is all about.

D.J. loved his Grandma Dee and Grandpa Jim, and their tremendous love for D.J. will always be with him.

D.J. married his soul mate March 14, 2003. Although their life together was short they shared a fairytale love that not many of us in a lifetime get to share.

Graduation


Agnieszka has become a close friend to the Dietz family. She has written her own tribute to D.J. and his family.

Extraordinary Gallantry and Valor
By Agnieszka O., family friend

Navy Cross Medal, Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Award, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medal.

Many knew him as Danny, but for family and many friends he was D.J.

I have never met D.J., but I feel like I know him in some way. I know him through his parents , Cindy and Dan, his brother Eric, his sister Tiffany and her husband Alex, his grandmother, aunts and uncles, family members, friends as well as pictures and video clips.

On June 28 this year family and friends celebrated D.J.’s life in a private memorial service in Denver, CO. The memorial service was a moving tribute to the HERO who, like his father Dan, wanted to serve his country and joined the Navy. Dan Dietz Sr. served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and provided an early inspiration for D.J. to become a Navy SEAL. They also shared the love of martial arts. Dan has a black belt in Taekwon-Do and started to teach D.J. when he was a toddler. D.J. also liked boxing and won the Armed Forces Boxing Championship representing the Navy team.

Cake

On September 13, the Dietz family traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a special presentation ceremony at the United States Naval Memorial next to the “Lone Sailor” statue. Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz Jr. and his Navy SEAL brother, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matt Axelson, were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Nation’s second highest Military Award for valor and gallantry. The medals were the fourth and fifth to be awarded to Navy SEALs since 2001.

Navy Cross in Presentation

D.J. was one of the four Navy SEALs inserted into the hostile territory close to Asadabad, Afghanistan during Operation Red Wing. D.J.’s specialty on the team was communication. After the team’s hiding position was compromised, they engaged in a fierce battle against overwhelming numbers of Taliban militia. They radioed for help and helicopters were dispatched to extract the team. By the end of that day, 28 of June 2005, two of D.J.’s teammates on the ground, Matt Axelson and Mike Murphy were KIA, one of the SEALs was able to escape, and eight Army Night Stalkers and eight Navy SEALS on board the Chinook helicopter perished in the rugged mountains of South Afghanistan.

D.J. gave it all to his team. He fought till the end.

The SEAL Ethos says:
“My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves.”

D.J paid the ultimate price to protect his teammates and his country.

On Monday August 18, Littleton Boulevard in Littleton Colorado was temporarily renamed in honor of D.J. to Danny Dietz Drive. The sign will be in place for 10 days. The City of Littleton is planning to unveil a permanent memorial in honor of DJ in one of the Littleton parks next year.

Street dedication

Eric is going to run the 31st Marine Corps Marathon in honor of his older brother D.J. The marathon will be held on Sunday, October 29, 2006 at Fort Meyer, Arlington, VA, near the Pentagon. Eric has never run in a marathon before but he has been diligently training the past several months — it will be very emotional for Eric but I know he’ll be able to complete the race.

The family site at T.A.P.S. is here.

My six-year-old son, Adam, really wanted to run a marathon in memory of DJ as well. Adam is going to run the Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids’ Fun Run on Saturday, October 28th. Eric took some time off with his own training to run with Adam. Adam is proud to run in memory of DJ.

Together with the City of Littleton, the Dietz family is raising money for the memorial statue of D.J.

Tax-Deductible contributions can be mailed to:

City of Littleton Finance Department
Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Fund
2255 West Berry Ave.
Littleton, CO 80165

The Dietz family is also developing a web site in a memory of their son at www.dannydietzjr.com.


The President’s conclusion to his speech:

We live in freedom because of the courage of men like Matthew and Danny. And we will honor their sacrifice by completing the mission. From Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa and Southeast Asia, we are engaged in a struggle against violent extremists — a struggle which will help determine the destiny of the civilized world. We’ve borne these responsibilities before, and we have seen our faith in freedom vindicated by history. In this young century, a new generation of Americans is being called to defend liberty — and once again the cause of liberty and peace will prevail.

American Hero

No one can replace a man like D.J. Dietz. He was unique and will be fondly remembered by all those lives he touched.

Additional reading:
Blackfive, Axelson and Dietz to receive Navy Cross
Navy NewsStand, Two SEALs Receive Posthumous Navy Cross Awards
Hampton Roads, Beach SEAL honored for his sacrifice in Afghanistan

Navy Cross award given on September 13, 2006.


navycross_citation.JPG

The Navy Cross citation.

This is a video tribute to D.J. created by Agnieszka.


July 5, 2007

The Memorial Statue in Littleton, CO was unveiled July 4, 2007. Slapstick Politics has a very nice post about it with pictures and links.

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