MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, held a memorial service for Sgt. Thomas Spitzer on Lance Corporal Torrey L. Gray Field, Oct. 14, 2014.
Spitzer, a team leader with Scout Sniper Platoon, 1/7, was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 25. Spitzer was manning an M240B medium machine gun covering the sector most likely to receive enemy contact. The position overlooked a tree line that would’ve allowed the enemy to come undetected in close proximity of Patrol Base Yakchal.
While defending his fellow Marines and sailors, Spitzer was struck by small arms fire and was treated by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Lowe, team corpsman, Scout Sniper Platoon, 1/7.
“I was on a rooftop when I got the call,” Lowe said. “I ran down and was the first responder.”
After being evacuated to Camp Leatherneck, Spitzer succumbed to his wounds and later died at the hospital.
Spitzer started his Marine Corps career Aug. 21, 2009, when he arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Shortly after recruit training, he attended the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and became an infantry mortarman.
“Sgt. Spitzer was the kind of Marine that immediately made the group stronger and the unit better with his presence,” said Lt. Col. Seth Yost, battalion commander, 1st Battalion 7th Marine Regiment.
Spitzer was assigned to 81mm mortar section, 1/7, and after two deployments, one with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and another with 1/7, he undertook the challenge of becoming a scout sniper during the summer of 2013. After becoming a scout sniper, he trained to become a joint fires observer.
“The example he set inspired his Marines,” Yost said. “The values [he] shared with his fellow Marines reflected our core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Spitzer was a man who was approachable to his fellow Marines and sailors. He made jokes and could break the ice, even in stressful situations.
“He could be professional when the time came for it,” Lowe said. “One hundred percent professional, but when we took a break or he didn’t need to be professional, he would joke and talk with anybody.”
Spitzer’s talent stemmed from not only his work ethic, but from his positive mental attitude toward the Marine Corps and his Marines.
“I think his positive state of mind is what made him so talented,” Lowe said. “He also brought the values of the Marine Corps into his life. That is what made him the man he was.”
Spitzer is survived by his parents, John and Jean Spitzer, his brother, Nicholas, and his fiancée, Casey Neef.