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Colonel Richard Seitz
2024 Honored Patriot of the Year / U.S. Army (Retired)

The Patriot of the Year honor is awarded to those Laguna Beach residents who have served the nation gallantly or meritoriously in times of war or national emergency.  Retired Army Colonel Richard Seitz qualifies in all these respects.  Known to friends simply as Bob, he was born in Los Angeles in 1947 and grew up in Whittier and the San Francisco area where he won a congressional appointment to U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

Graduating in 1969, Second Lieutenant Seitz underwent rigorous Ranger training and then volunteered for Vietnam when the war there was near its peak. He served in combat for eighteen months with the 2d Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the elite 101st Airborne Division, first as a rifle platoon leader and later, when promoted to captain, as a rifle company commander in the heavily contested terrain near Hue, in the A Shau Valley and on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  He was wounded in action and received three decorations for valor as well as the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Purple Heart Medal. 

Continuing an eventful US Army career that would last 24 years, Bob later served with the 82nd Airborne Division, had extended tours in Korea and on the Inner German border during the long Cold War. Other assignments included the Army Staff in the Pentagon, and he was later selected to serve on the Joint Staff.  During the Liberation of Kuwait (Desert Storm), Colonel Seitz was deployed to a nearby country and successfully completed a sensitive strategic mission aimed at preventing a wider conflict.

Retiring from military service in 1993, Bob continued his service to the nation as a defense consultant specializing in joint NATO operations for the next 20 years. Bob is steadfast in his belief that the nation should “take care of its own,” especially the soldiers who have been wounded in action. He led the support for wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Hospital, conducting weekly visits from 2004-2019 mentoring them during their long recoveries. He is continuing this service by his active participation in Laguna Beach Post 5868 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars which is dedicated to serving veterans in need.

While on a fellowship at Harvard University, he met Robin Berk, his future wife. The couple have a daughter, Loree, who is now a journalist.  As a boy in Whittier, his family often visited Laguna Beach, and with retirement in sight, he remembered the beauty of the Laguna community, and the couple decided to make their life in Laguna. They enjoy ocean swimming, skiing at Mammoth and walking their dog on the beach. He also serves as a deacon at Laguna’s Presbyterian Church. Today, we salute Colonel Seitz for his lifelong service to our country in peace and in war.

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