Danny Dietz (1980-2005) was a US Navy SEAL, who was part of the the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One (SDVT-1), which was involved in Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005. In June 2005, Dietz lost his life while participating in Operation Red Wings as a result of which he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, which is the U.S. Navy’s second highest decoration, and the Purple Heart.
Danny Phillip Dietz Jr. was born on Saturday, 26 January 1980 (age 25 years; at the time of death) in Aurora, Colorado, the United States of America. His zodiac sign is Aquarius.
He completed his schooling at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999. Thereafter, he enlisted in the US Navy and reported at the US Navy’s boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Chicago, Illinois, where he completed his military training and joined the Navy as a sailor on 27 November 1999.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Danny Dietz was born into a Christian family belonging to the Native American Apache tribe in the US.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Danny Phillip Dietz Sr. He served in the US Navy. His mother’s name is Cynthia Dietz Marsh. He has two siblings, a brother named Eric Dietz, and a sister named Tiffany Bitz.
Wife & Children
On 14 March 2003, Danny Dietz got married to Maria Paz Leveque Dietz. She served in the US Navy and retired in 2005. After Dietz’s death, she got remarried. She is the co-founder of the Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Foundation (NSDDF).
He followed Christianity.
After completing his military training, Dietz reported at the Gunner’s Mate “A” School at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Florida, where he underwent advanced training in radar operation. Thereafter, he attended the Class 232 of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) to become a US Navy SEAL. Later, he reported at the United States Army Airborne School, also known as Jump School, in Fort Moore, Georgia, where he underwent basic paratrooper (military parachutist) training. He later underwent SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) for 26 weeks as well as the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Training. In January 2001, he received the Insignia for Naval Special Warfare, also known as the SEAL team trident badge.
On 8 November 2001, Dietz was sent to Virginia, where he joined the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 (SDVT-2) and was assigned to Task Unit Bravo as the secondary SDV pilot and the Ordnance and Engineering Department head.
In April 2005, Dietz was sent to Afghanistan as a part of his Special Reconnaissance team. Their mission was to assist Naval Special Warfare Squadron TEN in their efforts against global terrorism.
Operation Red Wings
On 28 June 2005, a four-man SEAL team, consisting of Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Petty Officer Second Class Danny Dietz, Petty Officer Second Class Matthew Axelson, and Petty Officer Second Class Marcus A. Luttrell, was deployed in the mountains of the Kunar Province in Afghanistan, tasked with gathering intelligence and killing/capturing a high-ranking Taliban leader named Ahmad Shah who was reportedly hiding in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.
However, their mission was compromised when they were discovered by a group of local goat herders. According to Marcus Luttrell’s book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, the team faced a critical decision whether to kill the herders and continue their mission or release them and abort. Choosing the latter, they let the herders go, but soon after, they were ambushed by a large Taliban force after the herders informed the Taliban about the presence of the SEALs as soon as they were let go.
By the time the firefight ended, Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in action. Marcus Luttrell survived, but he was severely injured. Marcus’ account of the goat herders informing the Taliban was refuted by Mohammad Gulab Khan, a resident of the Salar Ban village, Kunar Province, who saved the injured Luttrell from the Taliban. According to Gulab, the sound of the rotors of the helicopter that dropped the 4-man SEAL team in the mountains warned the enemy fighters in the mountains. Talking about it, in an interview, Gulab said,
The militants, like many others in the area, heard the helicopter drop the Americans on the mountain, Gulab claims. The next morning, they began searching for the SEAL’s distinctive footprints. When the militants finally found them, the Americans were deliberating about what to do with the goat herders. The insurgents held back. After Marcus Luttrell and the company freed the locals, the gunmen waited for the right moment to strike.”
For his actions during Operation Red Wings, Dietz was awarded a Navy Cross and the Purple Heart posthumously.
- Navy Cross (Posthumous) (13 September 2006)
- Purple Heart (Posthumous)
- Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
- Good Conduct Award
- National Defense Service Medal
Honours & Legacy
- A life-sized bronze statue of Dietz, with his rifle resting on one knee in a ‘parade-rest’ pose, was erected in Littleton, Colorado, on 4 July 2007. The statue also featured his Navy Cross citation.
- Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Highway was designated in honour of Danny Dietz on 18 August 2009. This roadway segment stretches from Interstate 25 to Colorado State Highway 470.
- After he passed away, his wife co-founded the Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Foundation (NSDDF), which offers assistance to veterans of the US Armed Forces.
- The Danny Dietz Memorial Day Classic has been organised since 2010 at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds in Rosenberg, Texas. This event combines a fundraiser for charitable causes with rodeo festivities.
- After Danny Dietz’s death, his uniform was put on display in a museum in Colorado.
He owned a Yamaha YZF-R6.
He had a total of three tattoos, a tribal tattoo inked between his shoulder blades, a tattoo of a grim reaper wrapped in the American flag, and a gargoyle tribal tattooed on one of his sleeves.
Danny Dietz was killed in action during Operation Red Wings in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 28 June 2005. During the firefight with the Taliban, Danny got injured and while trying to evade the Taliban forces, he sprained his ankle as a result of which he could not walk. His teammate Marcus Luttrell carried him on his back to make it to a safe location to call for an extraction; however, while carrying Dietz on his back, Luttrell inadvertently swung Dietz into the path of a bullet as he was losing his balance. The bullet struck Dietz in the back of his head, leading to his death. After Dietz was hit, Luttrell lost his balance, leading to them falling down the mountainside. Talking about it, in an interview, Marcus said,
We got to an area where I was telling him there was another way we could fall and when I put my arms underneath him, I put ’em underneath his shoulders, and when I spun him around to take the fall, I spun him into a bullet. And it hit him in the back of the head and killed him.” CBS News
Danny’s body was found on 4 July 2005 by a team of U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen who were conducting a search and rescue operation in Kunar Province.
On 14 July 2005, he was laid to rest with complete military honours at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, with full military honours.
- His friends and family affectionately referred to him as DJ.
- While studying in school, Danny attended the Korean Academy of Taekwondo, where he earned a black belt in Taekwondo.
- Danny took a keen interest in sports, particularly rock climbing.
- In an interview, Danny Dietz’s sister said that he wanted to become a ninja.
- He was an avid animal lover. In an interview, his father disclosed that Danny Dietz had a distaste for attending rodeo events due to his conviction that such occasions inflicted suffering upon the horses involved. He also owned two pet dogs.
- He passionately followed his hobbies of drawing and fishing.
- He used to play rugby in his school days and was a part of his school’s rugby team.
- Actor Emile Hirsch portrayed the role of Danny Dietz in the 2013 Hollywood film Lone Survivor, which is based on the occurrences of Operation Red Wings.