Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief (SEAL/SW) Thomas Arthur Ratzlaff 34, was killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Senior Chief Ratzlaff was a Naval Special Warfare Operator assigned to an East Coast based Special Warfare Unit. He was on his 12th deployment in support of the War on Terror with nine previous deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. He was born November 3rd, 1976 in Harrison, Arkansas to Nancy Ann (Anderson) Ratzlaff and the late Benjamin Arthur Ratzlaff of Green Forest, AR. He graduated from Green Forest High School in 1995 and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May 1995 from his hometown of Green Forest, AR. to pursue his lifelong desire to become a Navy SEAL. Senior Chief Ratzlaff completed his initial training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL, and was assigned to the USS Kidd (DD 993). 

 In 1996, Senior Chief Ratzlaff entered training at the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Detachment in Virginia Beach, VA, culminating with his graduation from the Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL School in Coronado, CA. Following completion of SEAL training in 1998, he served with East Coast based Special Warfare Units. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (4 awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy / Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy / Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards). He has also been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (4 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (7 awards), NATO Medal, and both the Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship badges as well as the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist device. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (5th award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Purple Heart. Senior Chief Ratzlaff was awarded the Star of Military Valor, Canada's second highest military award for valor.  Thomas was the only non-Canadian to every receive this award. -submitted by family



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