Senator Ryan Zinke is a third generation Montanan and was a multiple sport All-State stand-out and a Whitefish High School Football Hall of Fame inductee. After serving as three time class president, Zinke attended the University of Oregon on an athletic scholarship and graduated with a B.S. in Geology. As a four-year letterman, he received numerous awards to include All-Pacific TEN honors, the Pacific TEN Medal, the University Sahlstrom Award, and the prestigious Emerald Cup for academic, athletic, and leadership excellence. In 1996 and again in 1997, Ryan Zinke was twice selected for Most Outstanding Young Men in America honors.
Ryan’s distinguished military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended SEAL training (class 136). He was then assigned to SEAL Team ONE in Coronado, CA where he led counter-insurgency and contingency operations in the Persian Gulf and the Pacific theater of operations.
From 1990-93 and again from 1996-99, he was selected to SEAL TEAM SIX where he was a Team Leader, Ground Force Commander, Task Force Commander and Current Operations Officer in support of National Command Authority missions.
He then served as the Special Operations Officer in Europe and led the first exercise between former Soviet Special Forces and NSW forces, and served as the SEAL Commander of Joint Task Force TWO in support of Special Operations missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo.
In 2004, Ryan was assigned as Deputy and acting Commander, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM where he led a force of over 3500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq in the conduct of 360 combat patrols, 48 Direct Action missions, and hundreds of sensitive operations. He was responsible for killing or capturing 72 known enemy insurgents and terrorists. In 2006, he was awarded two Bronze Stars for combat.
Ryan’s final Naval assignment was establishing the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command where he served as “Dean” of the Naval Special Warfare graduate school with a staff of over 250 educators which provided over 43 college level courses to over 2500 students annually at 15 different locations world-wide. He retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years as a US Navy SEAL.
In 2008, Senator Zinke was elected to the Montana State Senate representing District 2 which includes the cities of Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and the entirety of Glacier National Park. Senator Zinke chairs the Senate Education Committee and serves on the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. Significant bills include Workers Compensation reform and increasing flexibility in education. Often referred to as a “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican, Senator Zinke is a fiscal conservative and a leading advocate for working families, small businesses, traditional conservation values and a forward looking educational system.
Senator Zinke is CEO of two business development firms that specialize in advanced technology with clients to include Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Sierra Nevada, Unmanned Systems INC, and Katmai among others. He also serves as the Director of the Montana Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center for Remote Integration, a founding Director of the Montana Firearms Institute (MFI), and is the President and Founder of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation.
Ryan Zinke is Disabled Veteran and holds a MBA in Finance and a Masters of Science in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. He is married to the former Lolita Hand and has two young boys, Wolfgang and Konrad, and a daughter Jennifer, who is a former US Navy Diver and is also married to a Navy SEAL.