Ryan Zinke was born on November 1, 1961, in Montana. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Zinke Officer Candidate School with the U.S. Navy on February 8, 1985, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy at Newport, Rhode Island, on May 30, 1985. Ens Zinke attended the Navy Leader Development Program Division Officer Basic Course and the Expeditionary Warfare Staff Planning Course from May to July 1985, followed by Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training from August 1985 to February 1986. His first assignment was with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado, California, from February 1986 to June 1988, and then as First Phase Officer of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training course at the Naval Special Warfare Center, NAB Coronado, from June 1988 to July 1990. LCDR Zinke next served with Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck, Virginia, from July 1990 to August 1993, followed by service as the Unconventional Warfare Plans Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, in London, England, from August 1993 to July 1996. He again served with Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck from July 1996 to June 1999, and then as Executive Officer with Naval Special Warfare Unit TWO in Stuttgart, Germany, from July 1999 to January 2001. CDR Zinke next served as Executive Officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center at NAB Coronado from January 2001 to November 2004, and during this time he served as Deputy Commander, and for a short time as Acting Commander, of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula from February to May 2004. His final assignment was on the staff of the Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, at NAB Coronado from May 2004 until his retirement from the Navy on February 1, 2008. After his retirement from the Navy, Ryan served as a member of the Montana State Senate from the 2nd District from January 2009 to January 2011, and he has been serving as Montana's sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Montana's at-large district since January 3, 2015. Ryan Zinke is the first Navy SEAL in history to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
His 1st Bronze Star Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious achievement in connection with combat operations as Deputy Commander, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 12 February to 15 May 2004. Commander Zinke provided unmatched leadership and proven combat execution to establish a secure and stable environment in Iraq. He twice surged forward to provide critical leadership in support of Operations RESOLUTE SWORD and VIGILANT RESOLVE. His initiative assisted Coalition Forces in re-establishing civilian control and stability in Fallujah through the surgical use of interdiction operations, counter-ambush patrols, Direct Action (DA) missions, and other missions. Commander Zinke's total effectiveness, forceful leadership, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.