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Paying respect, remembering Scott Wirtz

By Ally Rogers, DIA Public Affairs Officer

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The Agency stood still and a deafening silence fell upon the halls of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile Lobby during Monday’s awards and Patriots Memorial unveiling ceremony in honor of Scott Wirtz, a DIA officer who was killed in a terrorist attack earlier this year.

The sun shined through the windows, illuminating the memorial. And, a sense of honor, respect and support pulsed throughout the building. The standing-room only audience inaudibly echoed the adoration and gratitude felt by fellow coworkers, teammates, family and friends.

“Today we gather together with grateful, yet very heavy hearts as we place the name of our hero, Scotty Wirtz, on this wall of remembrance,” said DIA Chaplain, Lt. Col. Scott Nupson. “We are deeply moved by his gift of sacrifice in the preservation of our freedom…there is no greater love than this.”

Wirtz served the Agency as a global security officer for the Office of Security’s Global Security Division. He was killed in action Jan. 16, following a terrorist attack in Manbij, Syria, while he was deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. A native of St. Louis, Wirtz, 42, supported multiple critical mission deployments for DIA and the Department of Defense.

During the ceremony, DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. spoke compassionately and purposefully, connecting Wirtz’ service, dedication and commitment to that of his ultimate sacrifice.

“As a nation, we are nothing without people like Scotty,” Ashley said. “People that serve our nation in time of war, that run to the sounds of the guns, that serve in distant lands, at undisclosed locations and brave the worst of conditions — they inspire us by their example.

“Any of Scotty’s teammates will tell you he was honorable, selfless, courageous, and bold, the very best of what we all strive to be,” he added. “For this reason, and so many more, we remember who he was, what he did, and most importantly, celebrate his life. Today we also remember his character and honor his service.”

Prior to joining DIA in 2017, Wirtz served as a Navy SEAL for 10 years, attaining the rank of petty officer first class. He then worked on numerous U.S. government contracts, providing support to U.S. forces and maritime operations around the globe.

“Scotty was an uncommon man forged by adversity, ready to defend those unable to defend themselves,” said Ashley. “He brought his warrior spirit to DIA, (where) Scotty once again volunteered to go where he was needed to protect his teammates. He did not pursue danger, but did not turn from it either.

“As English poet G.K Chesterton said, ‘A true warrior does not fight because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him,” Ashley continued. “We are all grateful for Scotty’s love of country.”

In addition to his remarks, Ashley also read a statement sent to him by the Joint Special Operations Command. Among the resounding message of professionalism and friendship, was one of thanks.

“Scotty Wirtz was a warrior and protector, and we were blessed to have him,” said Ashley, as he shared the JSOC message. “He made a lasting impact that continues to reverberate across our organization through those with whom he served...Thank you Scotty for all of your years of service and for your sacrifice. We will not forget, and we will redeem it.”

During the ceremony, attended by Wirtz’ family and GSD team, he was posthumously awarded the DIA Director’s Award and Defense of Freedom Medal, both of which were accepted by his mother and father.

Then the time came to unveil Wirtz’ hexagon-shaped plaque hanging on the Patriots Memorial wall, which was covered by a black cloth. When the family was called to remove the cloth, there was a collective inhale among those watching, as the magnitude and weight of the moment was shared by all.

“A true leader, friend, and servant to the end. An example of what we strive to be and a shining example of the best our nation has to offer,” said Ashley. “Through our actions, Scotty’s service continues. Through our actions Scotty is still in the fight.”