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Attorney called to serve

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As an attorney who was being deployed by the U.S. Navy Reserve to serve his country, there was no question that he would go. The support received from his firm for the year he was away made the experience manageable.

U.S. Navy Reserve Commander Rodney Retzner, a partner and chair of Krieg DeVault’s estate planning and administration practice group, has been in the U.S. Navy Reserve since the late 1990s. But he’s been with the U.S. Navy since he graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1990 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

In his last year at Rose-Hulman, he saw the Navy booth at a career fair and decided to enlist. While an active member of the Navy, he received his Master of Science in nuclear power, helped run a nuclear power plant in Charleston, S.C., and spent time on the USS Alabama – the submarine featured in the movie “Crimson Tide.”
 

IL_Navy03-15col U.S. Navy Reserve Commander Rodney Retzner, an attorney at Krieg DeVault in Carmel, served at U.S. Central Command in Florida for one year. He joined the Navy in 1990. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Jeffrey C. McDermott, Retzner’s friend and the executive partner to the firm’s Hamilton County offices, said he once saw Retzner’s very brief cameo when he caught a scene that was shot on the submarine while Retzner was serving there.

In 1995, Retzner went to University of Cincinnati College of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 1998. He’s worked for Krieg DeVault since that time. Until recently, his U.S. Navy and legal experience rarely, if ever, intersected. But in the last few years, he has had the opportunity to call on his experience with nuclear power as part of the firm’s alternative energy industry group.

When he told the management team that he may be mobilized in 2009, there was no question that they’d support him. Retzner said he had the option to bow out of the Navy if he didn’t want to be mobilized, but because he had never received that call before and had spent all those years as a reservist, there was no question in his mind that, if needed, he would go.

The firm had not experienced the deployment of a partner, McDermott said, at least not in recent history. They wanted to make it work for Retzner.

McDermott said the firm also considered Retzner’s wife, Denise, and their four sons, now ages 18, 10, 8, and 6, while Retzner was actively serving. The firm worked with Retzner on financial support for his family and his client relationships for the year he’d be away.

Retzner also said that he realized his job, no matter where he was deployed, would be much easier than what his wife, who would stay behind and need to run a house with four kids, would be faced with handling.

He returned to his practice in mid-January and the transition has been seamless. “Some of his clients may not have realized he was gone for a year,” McDermott said.

While on active military duty, Retzner kept in contact with clients and remained involved in their projects as much as he could, he said, as long as the work didn’t interfere with his military service. He was also able to visit his family at least once a month and would sometimes meet with clients while in the Indianapolis area.

The deployment

Retzner received orders in October 2009 that he would serve for one year starting in January 2010 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., working with the U.S. Central Command, a joint effort by all branches of the military to cover the area of the world between the European Command and Pacific Command. His role was to work in the Coalition Coordination Center to provide support for other countries involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He left home for active duty Jan. 8, 2010, and returned to his practice full time Jan. 10, 2011.

At one point, Retzner was told he might be sent to Iraq. The closest he got to the Middle East was a trip to Germany for a Central Command meeting in August 2010 that involved coalition forces from about 60 different countries.

His 2010 deployment also involved a rare intersection of his legal and military backgrounds. His first assignment was a desk officer’s role, focusing on five countries, and as the desk lead of the Maritime Operations Desk.

Less than a month after he started, he was promoted to oversee the operations side of the Coalition Coordination Center as deputy chief of operations. In that role, he was only a few steps under General David H. Petraeus, then later under General James Mattis.

There he used his skills of negotiation and contract writing, including memorandums of understanding between the U.S. and the countries involved with the coalition forces.

The efforts of Retzner and a team of officers produced new forces for Afghanistan from more than 10 partner nations, more than 4,000 coalition personnel who would support operations “Enduring Freedom,” “Iraqi Freedom,” and “International Security Assistance Force.” The team of officers also handled logistics and support for more than 50,000 coalition personnel already in Afghanistan.

At the end of his service, both Retzner and his wife received awards for their efforts. Retzner received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and his wife received the Military Spouse Award from Army Major General Steven Hashem, a two-star general Retzner worked for during his deployment.

The certificate that was awarded with the medal to his wife, Retzner wrote, says it all: “The Spouse does not wear a uniform yet they serve their country. They do not acquire nor wear ribbons showing where they have been yet they go. They did not ask for the duty they perform yet they unwaveringly serve to their best ability. … The [medal] signifies the lonely nights you have spent and that you have kept the home fires burning … the unwavering devotion you have shown for your spouse and their service to their country. This Medal is gratefully given to those that do not ask, those that stay on the home front so that their spouse can serve for they also proudly serve their country.”

Retzner also reflected on a few historical events that occurred while he was on duty.

He witnessed Air Force cargo jets that took supplies to Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake; from his office window, he saw the U.S. president disembark from Air Force One when he visited; he was there when Central Command provided support to Poland after a number of that country’s high-ranking officials, including the president, died in an airplane accident; and he helped support people affected by flooding in Pakistan.

“Of course, my individual role there was minimal given the 3,000 other members on that staff but the contributions of U.S. Central Command, taken as a whole, had and continue to have significant, real world implications. It was truly a remarkable experience to be part of it,” he wrote.•

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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