JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) – The Junction City community is mourning the loss of a well-respected local veteran who was heavily involved in the area, especially when it came to giving back to soldiers and their families.
Lieutenant General Richard “Dick” Seitz, 95, passed away Saturday, June 8, 2013 at his home in Junction City.
A native of Leavenworth, Kansas, Seitz lived in Junction City for decades after retiring from the military.
During his 35-year career as an Army officer and Paratrooper, he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II, the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps.
When he was placed in command of the 2nd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment in 1943, it made him one the youngest infantry battalion commanders during World War II at three days shy of his 25th birthday.
He remained in the Army after World War II and was promoted to colonel in 1954.
Seitz was promoted to brigadier general in July 1963 and two years later, he was named Assistant Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Vietnam and then served as Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Vietnam and Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Vietnam.
In March of 1967, he was promoted to major general and later assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. In late 1968, he personally commanded the effort to put down rioting in Washington, D.C. following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
In May 1973, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and served as the commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg and retired from active duty in 1975.
His military awards, decorations and civilian citations include: the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Medal -- third award, Legion of Merit -- second award, Bronze Star -- second award, Air Medal, Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Seitz was involved in many local organizations and a longtime supporter of Geary County schools. He worked on school bonds for the construction of Junction City Middle School and other elementary schools in the district. He would frequently visit local schools to meet with children to talk about leadership and greet teachers and staff members.
In September of 2012, Fort Riley named its new elementary school after him. The school's mascot is the dragon in honor of the battalion Seitz commanded during World War II.
“I’ve long been an advocate for education and especially for teachers because I feel that teachers are so very important. Certainly, they are responsible to a great extent to the total development of our fine children. Our children are our most precious commodity. Our children are our future,” Seitz said during the ceremony.
His family is in the process of making funeral arrangements.