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Navy Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff

Died August 6, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

34, of Green Forest, Ark.; assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team.; died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

Arkansas town lowers flags to half-staff in honor of fallen SEAL

The Associated Press

Thomas Ratzlaff wanted to be a Navy SEAL ever since he was a young boy growing up in Green Forest, Ark.

“He did what he loved and died defending those he loved and those who loved him,” his nephew, Jeff Adams, said as he read a statement from the family.

When Ratzlaff visited his hometown in northwest Arkansas, his late father would bring him by the log cabin restaurant where he ordered an egg, sausage and wheat toast every morning.

“The whole town was proud of him,” said Loree Blackburn, who runs that restaurant.

Now, the community of 2,700 remembers Ratzlaff with flags flying at half-staff.

Ratzlaff, 34, would have been grateful for the outpouring of support for his family, his nephew said. But he “would want the focus to remain on the cause for which he made the sacrifice, not the sacrifice itself.”

He had two sons and a wife expecting their third child — a girl — in November. He also leaves behind a sister and mother.

“As a Navy SEAL team member, my uncle was trained to keep a low profile and to do his job,” Adams said.

Served with two East Coast-based NSW units

Staff report

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark., enlisted in May 1995, the Navy said.

Ratzlaff completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School in December 1998 at Coronado, Calif. He served in two East Coast-based special warfare units, starting in July 2006.

His decorations include four Bronze Star Medals with Combat ‘V’ device, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, three Presidential Unit Citations, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, five Navy Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, eight Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, NATO Medal, Navy Expert Rifleman Medal and Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal. He also was qualified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.

Green Forest street renamed for fallen Navy SEAL

The Associated Press

GREEN FOREST, Ark. — A city street in Green Forest has been renamed in honor of a Navy SEAL who was killed in 2011 when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

The Harrison Daily Times reports that members of Tommy Ratzlaff's family gathered Tuesday for a ceremony that renamed Phillips Street as Tommy Ratzlaff Avenue. The Green Forest native was among 30 Americans killed when their helicopter was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Ratzlaff's mother, Nancy Ratzlaff, said her son would have been humbled by the recognition — and that he would have wanted his entire team to be honored.

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