Richard Seitz, a retired three-star U.S. Army general who once commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, died at his home in Junction City, Kan., last Saturday. He was 95.
Seitz joined the military just before World War II, commanding a parachute battalion in Europe. He later commanded the 503rd Parachute Battle Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., and served in Vietnam as a deputy chief of staff. He later led the 82nd Airborne when it was deployed to Washington, D.C., to help put down rioting following the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As a Portuguese speaker he served two tours in Brazil, the last as chief of the Joint U.S.-Brazilian Military Commission and one year in Iran as a military adviser. He also served in Japan with the occupation forces immediately after World War II.
He retired from active duty in 1975.
“He was my role model,” said his daughter, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, of Miami. “An individual who had great wisdom, great sense of humor, always interested in others, always looking for ways to help others succeed.”
Seitz has fond memories of the three years her family spent in Brazil, in the late ’60s, when her father served as an adviser to the Brazilian military.
“Miami reminded him very much of Rio de Janeiro, except he did not have the mountains,” Patricia Seitz said.
Her father used to visit Miami every winter for an annual reunion of his World War II outfit.
Seitz said that his philosophy as a soldier was always to take care of his troops.
He said once that the worst day in his life was Jan. 3, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge when his unit came under heavy artillery fire and 21 of his men were killed.
The retired general described those terrible moments two years ago as a speaker during an inauguration at the U.S. Southern Command, Judge Seitz said.
A memorial service will be held July 22 in Junction City. Instead of flowers, the family requests donations to either the Richard J. Seitz Veteran Scholarship at Kansas State University, St. Xavier Catholic Church, Junction City YMCA, or the Coronado Council of the Boy Scouts.