Senior Chief (Special Warfare Operator) “SEAL” Thomas Ratzlaff
Thomas Ratzlaff was born on November 3, 1976, in Harrison, Arkansas. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 25, 1995, and completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, in July 1995. Ratzlaff next completed gunner’s mate training at NTC Great Lakes from August 1995 to March 1996, and then served aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG-993) from April 1996 to March 1998. Petty Officer Ratzlaff attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at NAB Coronado, California, from June to December 1998 and then Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in January 1999. He served with SEAL Team TWO at NAB Little Creek, Virginia, from February 1999 to April 2003, followed by service with Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) at Dam Neck, Virginia, from April 2003 until he was killed in action when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. SCPO Ratzlaff was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While serving with SEAL Team TWO he deployed to Kosovo in 1999, and while serving with DEVGRU he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times. During this time he also deployed to Iraq in 2007.
In addition to the US Military Awards noted above, Ratzlaff was also awarded the Star of Military Valour, which is Canada’s second highest military award for valor.
Info about the Star of Military Valour Award
Tom left behind his wife of 14 years, Andrea, two sons–Barrett (11) and Sepp (6), and a daughter, Sofia who was born three months after his death.
ONE VETERAN FAMILY AT A TIME, THE KIDS:
Barrett, now 19, is in his sophomore year of college. He is studying Chinese and Math. He’s an avid runner and can be found running long distances wherever he goes. When he’s not studying or running, he enjoys playing Super Smash Brothers and has organized several tournaments of this game to raise funds for a local charity.
Sepp, now 14, has just started the 9th grade this year—high school! He is interested in languages like his brother, history much like his father, and space. He enjoys taking lessons in piano and guitar and sketches in his free time.
Sofia, almost 8 now, is in the second grade. She loves to learn and does well in school. She is in love with horses and is currently taking riding lessons. She enjoys art, music and dance, taking piano lessons and 4 dance classes a week. Definitely the busiest of the three!
Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent
On January 16 2019, while involved in special operations against ISIS in the Syrian city of Manbij, Shannon was killed by an improvised explosive device detonated by a suicide bomber. She was 36 years old.
Shannon graduated from the Defense Language Institute in 2004 and became proficient in Arabic and numerous other languages.
Shannon immediately volunteered for an individual augmentation deployment to Iraq in support of a Special Operations Task Force in 2007. She provided SEAL Strike Forces with actionable intelligence to kill and capture enemy terrorists. She received an invitation to and completed the requirements for Naval Support Activity 2 (SA2). An elite unit lead by SEALs. Shannon earned the DOD linguist of the year award in 2011, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Human Intelligence collector of the year award in 2012.
Shannon was selected and graduated (SMU) which lead to her direct support of DEVGRU/SEAL Team 6
Shannon married Joe Kent in 2014, parents of two beautiful sons, Colt and Josh. Both kids are named after fallen teammates. Shannon completed her master’s degree in Psychology. She applied for a US Navy program that would enable her to become an officer. Her dream was to one day help fellow service members coping with PTSD.
Staff Sergeant Jesse J Grindey
Ssg. Jesse J Grindey was born on March 3rd,1982 in Hazel Green, WI to Richard and Sara Grindey, where he attended Southwestern High School and enjoyed volunteering for the Hazel Green Fire Department and Rescue Squad.
After the tragedy of 9/11 he knew what he wanted to do.
He enlisted into the Army in March 2002 and served 1 tour of duty in Iraq and 1 tour in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 287th Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Riley, Kansas.
He married Mirafe “Mary” Commission on April 28th, 2008 in the Philippines. They have two beautiful children together, Jesse Jr. and Joanna.
Jesse passed away on March 12th, 2012 in Kandahar, a province in Afghanistan during his 2nd tour there. He had a passion for helping and serving people and always going above and beyond for others.
ONE VETERAN FAMILY AT A TIME, THE KIDS:
Joanna likes gymnastics; was a baseball and soccer player. Now she is into dance. She likes to draw/paint. One day she said “I want to be an artist when I grow up”. Piano lessons are next and then who knows. She has a passion for so much at such a young age.
Jesse Jr has played t-ball/soccer. He loves building things like Legos. He loves to draw and also sketch. Maybe he will be an Architect. But he also wants to be in the Army and Fire Fighter just like his Dad!