“In American folklore the good guys are the ones wearing the white hats, and Ed Seitz wanted everyone to know which side he was on.
Special Agent Seitz, killed in the line of duty a decade ago in Iraq, said he wore his trademark wide-brim hat to make a strong impression – so that people would remember him, and remember he was a federal agent who was there to help.
Not that he needed the hat.
“When he walked into a room, he took over that room, his personality just filled it up,” recalled his brother, Detective Bill Seitz, with the Division of Police in Cleveland, Ohio. “Depending on what side of the table you’re on, you either loved him or you hated him, but one thing’s for sure, you never forgot him. Once he was there, he made his presence known.”
A decade after his death, his personality was still filling up rooms.
Not many pews were vacant at the Most Holy Trinity Church near downtown Detroit, Michigan, where scores of family, friends, and law-enforcement colleagues paid tribute to Special Agent Seitz’s life and service to the nation. The memorial took place Oct. 24, 2014, the 10th anniversary of the Sunday morning in Baghdad when a mortar struck him, making him the first U.S. Department of State officer killed in Iraq. He was 41 years old. A former policeman in the Cleveland area, where he grew up, Seitz served 16 years as a Diplomatic Security Service special agent, with assignments across the United States and around the world, including tours in Yemen and China, but Detroit was a place he often called home.
The church, in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood, was a few blocks west of the DSS Detroit Resident Office where Special Agent Seitz spent two tours. He was most recently posted in Detroit before departing for his assignment as Assistant Regional Security Officer in Baghdad, and former law-enforcement colleagues in the city continue to hold annual observances in his honor. The Emerald Society of Detroit Metro Police put up a stone tablet in front of the church with a simple inscription: “In loving memory, Special Agent Edward J. Seitz, age 41 years; end of watch, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004, Baghdad, Iraq.”
10/24/2014. Monsignor Russell Kohler (right) of Detroit’s Most Holy Trinity Church greets Special Agent Ed Seitz’s family members (left to right): sister-in-law Colleen Seitz, niece Shannon Seitz, mother-in-law Adelaide Davidson, brother Bill Seitz, and wife Joyce Davidson Seitz after an October 24, 2014, service marking the 10th anniversary of his death in Iraq. (U.S. Department of State photo) – State Dept Image
“I’m going to stand in front of you to celebrate Eddie’s life, not mourn his death,” said his brother, Detective Bill Seitz. “Of course we’re all going to get choked up; it’s just going to happen. But if you knew my brother, you knew he was larger than life. You knew he enjoyed every ounce of life to the fullest. He was kind of one of those guys that took everything to the extremes. And he was awesome.”Ed Seitz’s wife, Joyce, moved from Detroit years ago but attended the memorial. They met in the mid ’90s in Sana’a, Yemen, where he was assistant regional security officer and she was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, better known as USAID. She asked that the remarks be a tribute to her husband’s vibrant life, rather than a sorrowful or grief-stricken event.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bill Miller, director of the Diplomatic Security Service, flew in from Department of State headquarters in Washington, D.C., to attend the gathering. The DSS is a small community, and Miller and Seitz had been friends.
“I could talk about fate, and I could talk about sadness,” Director Miller said, “but the reality is, I would rather thank God for the opportunity to have known Ed, and for the opportunity to continue with our memories of Ed.”
Along with the hat – he always wore the hat – Seitz is legendary in the Diplomatic Security community for his willingness to help.”