RICHMOND, Va. — Sporting a suit and tie, Kevin Lacz looks every part of a buttoned-up businessman. But in his past life, the 40-year-old was more comfortable in attire of a different sort — the uniform of a warrior.
In September of 2001, the Connecticut native was enrolled at James Madison University.
“9/11 occurred. My friend’s father Bruce Eagleton was killed in the World Trade Center,” said Kevin.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, Kevin’s life took a drastic turn with one decision at a recruitment office.
“The door of opportunity opened literally,” described Kevin. “The Navy door was open. Walked in. Saw a SEAL poster on the wall. I knew that was it.”
In 2002, Kevin left college and joined the U.S. Navy. His sights were set on being the best. The Navy SEALs.
Months of brutal air, land and sea training lay ahead. Only 15% of would-be SEALs succeed. Kevin endured.
“It is the most fun you never want to have again,” said Kevin.
He would become a member of the Navy’s vaunted SEAL Team 3. “It is something that challenged me like nothing else in my life,” said Kevin.
In 2006, Kevin’s team would be deployed to Ramadi — the epicenter of the insurgency during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We would get time-sensitive targets where they would pop up and ‘Hey, you got thirty minutes. Be there. We’d wake up in the late afternoon and plan the cycle and operate at night,” said Kevin.
As a sniper, medic and breacher, Kevin and his team would be sent on highly classified and dangerous missions. It would be the first of two deployments to Iraq for the sailor.
“For me, that is why you get paid. That is why you join. That is why you do your job,” explained Kevin.
He would eventually leave the Navy, but the SEALs never really left Kevin. His real life experiences would lead him to an unexpected role in Hollywood.
During the production of "American Sniper," the film’s director, screen legend Clint Eastwood, urged Kevin to play himself in the movie.
“Clint said, ‘Kid is damn good. Get him a job.’ That is how I ended up on American Sniper. Two weeks in Morocco filming and technical advising. It was a wild story. It was crazy,” said Kevin. “To sit there in Morocco and be at the bar and Clint elbows up to you and drink a beer and says, ‘What’s up?’ It’s like really? It was a great experience. I never thought I would be in that experience. Who would?”
The film, which details the life and death of SEAL Team veteran and Kevin’s friend, Chris Kyle, was nominated for an Academy Award.
“Chris was an average guy in the platoon. He had an extreme talent working a bolt-action rifle at extremely long distances,” said Kevin.
Kevin said as a technical adviser, getting it right on the big screen was essential.
“My job was simply to help out where I could and make it as authentic as possible,” said Kevin.
Recently, Kevin returned to Virginia where he appeared as the keynote speaker at the Boy Scouts gala in Richmond.
“Leadership is an active word,” said Kevin. “You have to actively lead and teach others. I enjoy that role and service is definitely high on my priority list.”
Kevin works as a physicians assistant in Florida helping veterans, law enforcement officers and active duty military to reach their physical best.
“I don’t think I’d be as good as a father, provider as a business owner as a person, if I hadn’t had those experience because they made me work,” says Kevin.
Kevin Lacz. A SEAL Team member whose selfless service to others and his nation led him from the classroom in Virginia 20 years ago to the hell of war and on to Hollywood and back.
“To be a good person it is learned behavior. You have to be a good role model. You have to serve others and be an example.”
Kevin Lacz is married to Lindsey Lacz, who hails from King George County. The couple has two children and live in Pensacola, Florida.
Kevin is the author of the New York Times Best Selling Book, “The Last Punisher,” which details his experiences in the battle of Ramadi.
If you know of someone who is a “Hero Among Us” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org