Dietz in Afghanistan
|Birth name||Danny Phillip Dietz Jr.|
|Born||January 26, 1980|
Aurora, Colorado U.S.
|Died||June 28, 2005 (aged 25)|
Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Fort Logan National Cemetery
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1999–2005|
|Rank||Gunner's mate, Second class|
|Unit|| U.S. Navy SEALs
|Battles/wars||War in Afghanistan
Maria L. Dietz (m. 2003–2005)
Daniel Phillip Dietz Jr (January 26, 1980 – June 28, 2005) was a Navy SEAL who was awarded the U.S. Navy's second highest decoration, the Navy Cross, along with the Purple Heart, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan.
Early life and education
Dietz was born on January 26, 1980 in Aurora, Colorado to German American parents Cindy and Daniel P. Dietz Sr. He also had Apache ancestry. He graduated from Heritage High School in Littleton in 1999.
He joined the Navy on August 31, 1999, and following his graduation from basic training at the Recruit Training Command, Naval Station Great Lakes, he finished Gunner's Mate "A" School at Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, IL. From that point on, he enrolled in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S) and graduated with Class 232 in 2001. Dietz proceeded to the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning in Georgia, after which he completed SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Training. Shortly after checking in at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on November 8, 2001, he was appointed to Task Unit Bravo as the optional SDV pilot and the ordnance and engineering department head. In April 2005, Dietz was deployed with his Special Reconnaissance component to Afghanistan to help Naval Special Warfare Squadron TEN in the indictment of the Global War on Terrorism.
Operation Red Wings
Operation Red Wings was a counter-insurgency operation by the United States Armed Forces to kill or capture Ahmad Shah, (code name Ben Sharmak), a known terrorist and head of the militia, "Mountain Tigers". Dietz and Michael P. Murphy were tasked as spotters or lookouts. The mission was compromised after goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs and reported them to the Taliban. An intense firefight ensued; hours later, Dietz was killed as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. Murphy had gone into an open clearing to get reception and call for support, but he was killed moments later after being shot multiple times. It was this act that awarded Murphy the Medal Of Honor; Axelson died hours later after trying to escape his pursuers.
The support dispatched was a team of eight Navy SEALS and eight 160th SOAR night stalkers. However, all sixteen special forces soldiers perished, after the CH-47 Chinook was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade; the helicopter crashed just as the soldiers were about to fast rope. Among the dead aboard the helicopter were Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen, the highest-ranking officer to die in the operation, and Kip A. Jacoby, the youngest soldier to die in the operation, at the age of 21. Luttrell was the only survivor of the operation.
Dietz was mortally wounded after taking the brunt of the initial attack and the fall. This led him to lose his ability to walk and as a result, SEAL Marcus Luttrell carried him on their way down the mountain, as Dietz fired back. This rigorous activity was repeated several times until Luttrell accidentally swung him into a bullet, when Luttrell was about to fall. The bullet penetrated the back of his head and instantly killed him, Dietz's dead weight came as a surprise to Luttrell and as a result, he fell down the edge of the mountain with Dietz's body and was severely injured.
On July 4, 2005, Dietz's body was found by a group of American pararescuemen during a search and rescue operation and returned to the United States. Dietz was buried with full military honors at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
Dietz has a brother Eric and sister Tiffany.
Awards and decorations
On September 13, 2006, Dietz was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross by Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter.
For extraordinary heroism in actions against the enemy while serving in a four-man Special Reconnaissance element with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, Naval Special Warfare Task unit, Afghanistan from 27 to 28 June 2005. Petty Officer Dietz demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Operating in the middle of an enemy-controlled area, in extremely rugged terrain, his Special Reconnaissance element was tasked with locating a high-level Anti-Coalition Militia leader, in support of a follow-on direct action mission to disrupt enemy activity. On 28 June 2005, the element was spotted by Anti-Coalition Militia sympathizers, who immediately revealed their position to the militia fighters. As a result, the element directly encountered the enemy. Demonstrating exceptional resolve and fully understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his teammates, Petty Officer Dietz fought valiantly against the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force. Remaining behind in a hailstorm of enemy fire, Petty Officer Dietz was wounded by enemy fire. Despite his injuries, he bravely fought on, valiantly defending his teammates and himself in a harrowing gunfight, until he was mortally wounded. By his undaunted courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and absolute devotion to his teammates, Petty Officer Dietz will long be remembered for the role he played in the Global War on Terrorism. Petty Officer Dietz' courageous and selfless heroism, exceptional professional skill, and utmost devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for the cause of freedom.
On July 4, 2007 the town of Littleton, Colorado erected a bronze lifesize statue of Dietz holding his rifle in a 'parade-rest' position on one knee. It contained the same statement on the Navy Cross citation.
For the 2013 film Lone Survivor, which covered the events of Operation Red Wings, Dietz was portrayed by actor Emile Hirsch.
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- "Danny P. Dietz's Career". Travis Manion Foundation. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "LT MICHAEL P. MURPHY USN". United States Navy. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "Survivor". 60 Minutes. CBS News. 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- Wilson, Jamie (12 July 2005). "Navy Seal's body found after failed Afghan mission". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
- "Ultimate sacrifice won't be forgotten". The Denver Post. 2005. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
- "Danny Dietz Memorial Sculpture". City of Littleton website. 2007. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "South Santa Fe span dedicated to honor slain Littleton SEAL". The Denver Post. 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "Highway signs unveiled in honor of Dietz". Littleton Independent. 2009. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
- "Danny Dietz Memorial Day Classic honors the fallen". Fort Bend Star. 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
- "Movie 'Lone Survivor' Features Story Of Littleton's Danny Dietz". CBS4. Denver, Colorado. January 5, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
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