Dietz was born on January 26, 1980 in Aurora, Colorado, the son of Danny Phillip, Sr. and Cindy Dietz, and the brother of Tiffany and Eric. In 1999, he graduated from Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado. He then went into BUD/S and got stationed in Virginia Beach, VA where he met his wife Maria (Patsy) and married her in 2003. He had two dogs that he adored, Nox (Tosa Mastiff) and Murphy (English Bulldog). He enjoyed the outdoors, spearfishing, and rock climbing.
His larger than lifesize bronze memorial in Littleton, Colorado was created by sculptor Robert Henderson of Canon City, Colorado. The South Wing of the Pacific Beacon Apartments at Naval Station San Diego is named Dietz Hall as well.
Dietz was part of an elite team of four SEALs on a reconnaissance mission "tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan," according to a U.S. Navy news release.
According to the U.S. Navy, the team was "spotted by anti-Coalition sympathizers, who immediately reported their position to Taliban fighters. A fierce gun-battle ensued between the four SEALs and a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position". The SEALs radioed for help, and a responding Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing eight more SEALs and eight ArmyNight Stalkers. It was the second worst single combat loss for the U.S. Navy SEALs in their history. Dietz was the first casualty of the battle, and was killed before the helicopter's arrival.
A statue of Dietz at Berry Park in Littleton, Colorado.
The location of Dietz's body was unknown for seven days after his death. His remains were recovered during a combat search and rescue operation on July 4, 2005. Dietz's body was returned to the United States, where he was interred with full military honors. His hometown of Littleton, Colorado, honored his memory by erecting a statue of Dietz in uniform holding a carbine, which was unveiled on July 4, 2007. This was not without controversy however. Local parents, suggesting that the statue of Dietz glorified violence, tried to have the statue altered. The statue, they argued, was three blocks from a school. The Littleton city council stated that 150 emails and letters were received in support of keeping the memorial as is, there was only one in favor of changing it.
For extraordinary heroism in actions against the enemy while serving in a four-man Special Reconnaissance element with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, Naval Special Warfare Task unit, Afghanistan from 27 to 28 June 2005. Petty Officer Dietz demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Operating in the middle of an enemy-controlled area, in extremely rugged terrain, his Special Reconnaissance element was tasked with locating a high-level Anti-Coalition Militia leader, in support of a follow-on direct action mission to disrupt enemy activity. On 28 June 2005, the element was spotted by Anti-Coalition Militia sympathizers, who immediately revealed their position to the militia fighters. As a result, the element directly encountered the enemy. Demonstrating exceptional resolve and fully understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his teammates, Petty Officer Dietz fought valiantly against the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force. Remaining behind in a hailstorm of enemy fire, Petty Officer Dietz was wounded by enemy fire. Despite his injuries, he bravely fought on, valiantly defending his teammates and himself in a harrowing gunfight, until he was mortally wounded. By his undaunted courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and absolute devotion to his teammates, Petty Officer Dietz will long be remembered for the role he played in the Global War on Terrorism. Petty Officer Dietz' courageous and selfless heroism, exceptional professional skill, and utmost devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for the cause of freedom.
A section of Santa Fe Drive (U.S. Highway 85) between I-25 and C470 has been named the "Navy Seal Danny Phillip Dietz, Jr. Memorial Highway."