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Thomas E Retzer


U.S. Navy



Thomas Retzer was part of a dedicated Naval Special Warfare team fighting the Taliban. Retzer worked to help ensure al Qaeda terrorists could not train in, nor launch strikes from Afghanistan since their lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.

Thomas Retzer was a native of California who was an avid athlete and outdoorsman. He enlisted in the Navy in 1988 directly after graduating from high school, and became an Interior Communications Electrician. Retzer was working on a mathematics major at San Diego State University when he left to do for what his father said was really “the only thing he wanted to do:” become a Navy SEAL.

Retzer graduated from Seal training in 1994. He distinguished himself as a SEAL operator during combat operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2003, earning two Bronze Stars with combat “V” for valor.

On June 25, 2003, Retzer was killed while engaged in a fierce firefight after his convoy was attacked outside of Gardez, Afghanistan. He received gunshot wounds to the head and chest, but lived 24 hours before succumbing to his injuries.

Thomas Retzer is remembered with the greatest respect and gratitude by his fellow SEALs, the Navy, and the nation.

Memorials: Petty Officer Retzer’s service and sacrifice touched service members of all ages and experience:

A Seal student wrote gratefully, “Nothing but the utmost respect for the man and the family behind the man. Thank you for your sacrifice.

A SEAL just graduated wrote the family, “I just wanted to say that in searching for guidance within this job of ours, it is great men like your Tom that the men of the Teams turn to when looking for the way they should do their job.“

A fellow shipmate said Thomas Retzer was “a brave, proud, selfless man, a good husband and loving father,” and that “The sacrifice that he made for our country will not ever be forgotten.”

A Vietnam War veteran stated, “The sacrifices Petty Officer Retzer made and the deeds he performed shall remain alive in our memories for generations to come.

Retzer’s wife praised both her spouse and his fellow SEALs: “I am so proud of my husband and thankful to his very brave and steadfast teammates who continue the mission unseen. Tom was in good company.”


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