Five years ago this morning, Americans rose from their beds and went to work or school or whatever was their daily routine. One such American was 57 year old Captain Lawrence Daniel Getzfred. Capt. Getzfred went to his job, which was more than just a means to provide for his family. As the Pentagon branch head of for Joint Operations and Plans on the staff of the Deputy Director of Plans, Policy and Operations, Capt. Getzfred went to work every day to serve this nation.
As the New York Times described him, Capt. Getzfred was a "Navy Man, Bottom to Top." Serving America was Capt. Getzfred's life. So was his family. On September 11, 2001, Getzfred left home at 4:00 a.m. so that he could finish his day early and make it to his daughter's soccer game that afternoon. Later that morning, when Capt. Getzfred's wife, Patricia Grooss-Getzfred, heard of the horrific attacks on her car radio and her husband had not called, she just assumed that he was still working on the situation or helping someone, which would have been totally in his nature. As Ms. Grooss-Getzfred told a reporter, "He was always looking out for the other guy, playing the mentor, playing the coach."
"He had a tremendous perspective and insight for dealing with people in the Navy because he started out as an enlisted man," said Jess Hernandez, a retired rear admiral who knew Captain Getzfred for more than 20 years. "Larry had a great feeling for those who were junior to him. He had been there, and he knew how important it was to offer his ear."
Capt. Getzfred grew up in Elgin, Nebraska, a town of around 800 people. Soon after graduating high school in 1962, he did the same thing that four of his six brothers did, he enlisted in the Navy. He was nineteen years old and looking for a career that could pay for college and let his see the country. A life in the Navy allowed Capt. Getzfred to see not only the country but the world. Over 38 years, he served in Hawaii, England, California and Washington, and served in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.
During his service, Capt. Getzfred received the following awards and decorations:
Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy Reserve Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), Air Medal (2), Navy Unit Commendation (2), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Commendation, (Gallantry Cross Color Medal with Palm), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation (Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color with Palm), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4), Navy and Marine Corps Service Ribbon, Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon, Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation
The following are some online tributes in Capt. Getzfred's memory:
September 12, 2003
Although I never met you, you are part of the Navy family just like I am. Rest in peace Sir, the watch has been properly relieved.
FN Mugrage (Waco, TX )
November 4, 2003
My husband and Larry were stationed together at Moffett Field, CA. It was a sad day to find Larry on the list. Our best to Pat and the girls. May God keep you and watch over you always.
Connie Spencer (Milton, FL )
Capt. Getzfred died five years ago today because he was at work just doing his job, helping to make this nation safer. Along with that of the nearly 3,000 others who died at the hands of fascists acting in the name of Islam, Capt. Getzfred's legacy will not die. We must remember what this nation is and what it represents and why we must fight to protect it. Rest in peace.