Green Forest SEAL killed in Afghanistan

Monday, August 8, 2011 ~ Updated 8:36 AM
Navy Master Chief Tommy Ratzlaff was serving in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down by insurgent fire, killing him and 30 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

GREEN FOREST -- Flags are flying at half-staff this week as a community mourns the loss of one of its own.

Navy Master Chief Tommy Ratzlaff, a 1995 Green Forest High School graduate, was killed in a Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan last week.

The Navy SEAL was among the 38 that were on board. The group had just completed a rescue mission and was shot down by insurgent fire.

Ratzlaff, 34, joined the Navy out of high school in 1995 and went on to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a Navy Seal.

"From the time he was in elementary school he talked about being a Navy SEAL," his sister Julie Adams remembered.

He leaves behind his family here, she said, and a wife and children in Virginia Beach, Va., along with an unborn daughter who is expected to arrive in November.

Adams released this statement on behalf of the Ratzlaff family:

"My family is grieving, not only for our loss of a son, brother, father, uncle, husband, nephew and friend -- but grieving with the other families who had loved ones give their lives for the freedom and rights enjoyed in our country," she said.

"We are proud and thankful of all the servicemen who put their own lives in danger daily to protect us.

"Tom would have grateful for the outpouring of love, support and prayers for his family, but would want the focus to remain on the cause for which he made this sacrifice -- not the sacrifice itself.

"As a Navy SEAL team member, my brother was trained to keep a low profile and just do his job.

"We are proud of him, the life he lived, the accomplishments he had, and the ideals he stood for.

"He did what he loved and died defending those who loved him."

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Gov. Mike Beebe has said that both U.S. and Arkansas flags will be lowered to honor him on that day.

A memorial service will follow in Green Forest at a later date.

Memorial donations can be made to the Ratzlaff Memorial Scholarship fund at First National Bank of Green Forest.

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  • Heroes all. God speed

    -- Posted by okaybut on Mon, Aug 8, 2011, at 2:08 PM
  • My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Master Chief Tommy Ratzlaff.

    I am sorry, for the ultimate sacrifice that you gave to defend my home, my country and my freedom.

    Sir, I salute you ! ! ! !

    -- Posted by Doodad on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 10:15 AM
  • My husband was a friend of Thomas "Rat" Ratzlaff. We had the pleasure of he and his son to visit our home. This guy was a wonderful man and friend to my husband. My heart goes out to all the families who lost a loved one in the crash. I just want Thomas Ratzlaff's family know that there are a number of people in North Carolina that will miss him so much. If there is anything we can do, just contact us. His wife should have our number.

    Rest in peace dear friend, you will be missed greatly.

    -- Posted by on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 12:50 PM
  • From one Navy Mom to you I am very sorry for your loss. Your son was and always will be a hero. God bless you and your family. Tommy will never be forgotten.

    -- Posted by turnerbbmk on Tue, Aug 16, 2011, at 9:44 PM
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