PARKERSBURG - Danny Dietz Jr. was a Navy SEAL killed in action on June 28, 2005, in Operation Red Wing as a member of a four-man reconnaissance team seeking out a Taliban leader.
Recently a book detailing his life was released, written by Parkersburg native Jeremy Dunlap, entitled "Danny: The Virtues Within (What America Can Learn from Navy SEAL Danny Dietz)."
Along with Dietz's parents, Dan Dietz Sr. and Cindy Dietz-Marsh, Dunlap conducted a book signing Saturday at VFW Post 1212 in Parkersburg. Before that, all three also attended a luncheon at the post to benefit the Nick Null Foundation.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Touring to promote a book on the life of Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Jr. are Cindy Dietz-Marsh, right, his mother, author Jeremy Dunlap, left, and Dan Dietz Sr., his father.
Dietz-Marsh said her son is one of the characters in the book and movie "Lone Survivor." She said that tells about the last minutes of her son's life, while Dunlap's book tells about his early life growing up in Littleton, Colo.
Dietz-Marsh said she and Dietz Sr. began work on the book two years ago. They met Dunlap through Phil Taylor, founder of the American Fallen Soldiers Project, after they approached Taylor about writing her son's story and he introduced them to Dunlap.
"It was apparent in an instant that it was God-given for Jeremy to write our story," she said.
Dietz-Marsh said the reception of the book can be summed up in one word - amazing.
"Everybody has just been so gracious about using the virtues our son used that he grew up with," she said. "They have told us how they read the stories and used those virtues to make their own lives better or guiding them to a better path."
Dietz-Marsh said the virtues covered in the book were strength, courage, honor, loyalty and giving for others above self.. Those were the foremost of the virtues their son was raised on and showed in his life and service, she said.
Dietz Sr. said they wanted to tell their son's story but could not do it on their own.
"We could not do it by ourselves, it was way too emotional," he said. "That's why Jeremy was such a help to us. We were talking subjectively and Jeremy wrote it objectively. Then he got into it and it inspired him to being out his full potential in this book."
Dietz Sr. said he was a Navy Corpsman serving with the U.S. Marines first force recon in Vietnam.
"I used to tell him stories about when I was in the service," he said. "I was asked if I had any influence on Danny and I said 'I don't know and if I did, I wish I wouldn't have had the influence, I really don't.'"
Dietz Sr. said the decision to the join the Navy and to become a Navy SEAL was his son's decision. Dietz Sr. said he taught martial arts for 18 years and the younger Dietz practically grew up in a martial arts studio.
"He wanted to be a ninja but then around 9 years old he found out becoming a ninja was not realistic but becoming a Navy SEAL was the next best thing," he said. "There not too much of a demand for ninjas, but there is a demand for young men and women to protect our freedom."
Dietz Sr. said his son and others go through the mill to make sure they want to be there during SEAL training.
"An officer told me they do this because in a combat situation you need to know the man next to you is one you can depend one. They have a bond beyond what civilians have - they are really like brothers."
Dietz Sr. said even as a child Danny was protective of his younger siblings, Eric and Tiffany. He said he stood up for them and they knew he would be there for him.
Dietz Sr. said the book tour has been tiring but they are willing to do it.
"Our son left a lot on our plate and we have to carry that plate for him," he said. "We aren't doing this for us, it's for him,. If it were for me I'd rather be fishing but I can't.
"I'm the mouthpiece for my son and live up to his standard."
Dunlap said he knew the Dietz's story from his work with the military that included work with the Navy SEALS. However, he said he never dreamed he would be writing about him.
Dunlap, a 1993 graduate of Parkersburg South High School, said he he was approached about the book at a time when he was preparing to write a book centered on American freedom. He delayed that project to do the Dietz book and is now back to working on the first piece.
In June 2011, Dunlap had trained SEAL teams in a negotiation skills training sessions. In August 2011 after Mineral Wells native Nick Null was killed, Dunlap wrote a piece called "Memorial in Courage" that went across the country that came to the attention of the Dietz family.
Dunlap said the book was his first credit and was written to focus on virtues.
"This is a virtues book, not an operations book," he said.
Dunlap said there were three main sources in the book.
"One was the Navy SEALS written ethos, another was an interview with an anonymous Navy captain who was the head of Navy SEALS training and stories of Danny's life," he said. "It's kind of a trifecta of where the book comes from and I've mixed in American history pieces and quotes from the founders and things of that nature."
Dunlap said he is not a veteran but has provided training to the military in negotiations skills, service skills and presentation skills. He also provides similar training to corporations and small businesses
"I've worked with four of the five branches of the military including Special Forces and Naval Special Warfare, that includes the Navy SEALS," he said. "I tell everyone in my family we celebrate the Fourth of July like most people celebrate Christmas. I grew up loving the country, loving the military, my father, my uncle and grandfather all served."