Rear Adm. Retz was born in Blauvelt, N.Y., and attended the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque as an NROTC Scholarship student. President of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and Commander of the Brigade of Midshipmen, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned in June 1963. He later earned a Master of Science degree from George Washington University.
Retz served in numerous at-sea assignments including: Main Propulsion Officer, USS Taylor (DD 468); Operations Officer, USS Borie (DD704); assignment with the River Patrol Forces (Task Force 116 ) in Vietnam; Flag Secretary and Aide to Commander Amphibious Group TWO; Executive Officer, USS Ainsworth (FF1090); Commanding Officer, USS Stump (DD978); and Commander Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Two. Retz’ service in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean Theaters encompassed key international events, such as the 1973 Middle-East crisis; Operation Game Warden in Vietnam; and the hostage crisis off Beirut. As a Destroyer Squadron commander he was closely involved in antisubmarine warfare and in early tests of the Tomahawk cruise missile system, which later proved so successful in the Persian Gulf War.
Retz’ shore duty included tours as student, Cruiser-Destroyer Force Engineering School and Naval Destroyer School (graduating both with distinction); Naval War College, Newport Rhode Island and Placement Officer, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, DC.
Retz served several staff tours, including duty as Company Officer and Performance Officer, U.S. Naval Academy; Deputy Director, Surface Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Surface Warfare); Head, Officer Community Management Section and Deputy Director, Military Personnel Policy Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel and Training); and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel.
Retz assumed duties as Deputy Director for Operations, United States Central Command in September 1987. His responsibilities encompassed Persian Gulf escort and strike operations Earnest Will, Praying Mantis and Nimble Archer. In the spring of 1989, Retz attended the National Defense University Capstone course enroute to his flag assignment as Director, Total Force Programming/Manpower Division (OP12). Subsequently he was assigned as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Military Personnel Policy and Career Progression (Pers 2) Retz commanded Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and Naval Base Pear Harbor from July 1992 to September 1994. While at Pearl Harbor Retz was responsible for several highly successful base transition initiatives including some detailed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Retz assumed command of Naval Base Philadelphia in October 1994, closed that complex on 30 September 1995 and transitioned to a civilian career.
Retz' awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (3 gold stars), Bronze Star with combat “V”, Purple Heart, Meritorious service Medal with gold star, Navy Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation and various campaign and service awards.