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    Default Hamburg veteran of 3 wars is buried with military honors

    Hamburg veteran of 3 wars is buried with military honors
    Ron Devlin, Reading Eagle, Pa.
    Mon, May 31, 2021, 5:50 AM
    May 31—World War II in Europe was in its waning days when Lt. James A. Zweizig of the 404th Fighter Squadron broke formation in pursuit of a strange looking German fighter plane on April 17, 1945.

    The strange thing was that the German aircraft had no propellers, unlike Zweizig's propeller-driven P-47 Thunderbolt.

    When the smoke cleared from two blasts of the P-47's eight 50-caliber machine guns, Zweizig had downed a Messerschmitt Me262, or Schwalbe, the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft.

    Impressive as it was for a 23-year-old pilot from Hamburg, the incident was only one of many in Zweizig's 28-year career as a military pilot, which included missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

    Lt. Col. James Alfred Zweizig died at age 99 on Jan. 14 in Denver, Colorado, where he lived with a grandson, Zachary Zweizig.

    Zweizig's ashes were accorded full military honors May 28 at a service in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, where they are to be interred with 57,000 servicemen and women.

    Frances Zweizig Muller of Hamburg, Zweizig's 97-year-old sister, was present at the burial service.

    She was surrounded by family members, including her son, Andy Muller, owner of the Reading and Northern Railroad.

    "He's gotten the recognition that he deserved," said Frances, who served in the Women's Nursing Corps during World War II. "He's where he wanted to be."

    Facing a Messerschmitt

    In a 12-page hand-written letter to a friend in 2001, Zweizig recounted highlights of a military career that began when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

    Then a 19-year-old student at Bloomsburg State Teachers College, Zweizig joined the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a government effort that trained about 435,000 pilots for military service from 1939 to 1944.

    In April 1943, Zweizig was ordered to active duty.

    Flying out of an airfield near Cherbourg in France, a city still under German occupation, his unit flew missions in support of Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army in mid-1944.

    The incident with the Messerschmitt Me262 is mentioned in "Battle for the Skies Over Europe: German Jets vs. the U.S. Army Air Force" by William N. Hess.

    In a 2010 interview with the Reading Eagle, Zweizig said the encounter with the Messerschmitt was on the 97th of his 100 combat missions during World War II.

    Catching the German jet by surprise as it was landing in a camouflaged airfield near the border with Czechoslovakia, Zweizig got so close he could see the "pipes" under both wings. What he called pipes were the aircraft's twin jet engines.

    Zweizig's lack of experience with jet fighters would be more than made up in 65 missions he flew in Korea, where he encountered Chinese pilots flying Russian MIGs along the Yalu River in the early 1950s.

    At the time, he was activated with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Squadron.

    Again, in March 1967, the then 45-year-old pilot was called upon to serve his country.

    This time it was in Vietnam, where he spent a year flying DeHavilland C-7 Caribou planes into remote jungle airstrips.

    "I did about 1,500 takeoffs and landings carrying every kind of cargo imaginable, from drums of gasoline to Vietnamese civilians with all their belongings and animals," Zweizig wrote.

    He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 20 Air Medals and a Presidential Unit Citation. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in April 1970.

    For distinguished service

    The Vets 21 Salute Honor Guard fired the traditional volley of three shots, and the sound of taps echoed across rows of headstones reminiscent of the white crosses of Normandy at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.

    In an open-sided canopy, two Air Force non-commissioned officers meticulously folded an American flag into the tri-cornered symbol of a nation's gratitude.

    On one knee, an Air Force technical sergeant presented the flag to Zachary Zweizig.

    "As a representative of the United States Air Force, it is my high privilege to present to you this flag. Let it be a symbol of the appreciation this nation feels for the distinguished service rendered to our country and our flag by your loved one," said the sergeant, part of a delegation from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

    Clutching the coveted memorial, Zweizig said it was astonishing that his grandfather survived three wars and lived to be 99 years old.

    "He used to say 'I shouldn't be here,' " Zweizig said, recalling his grandfather's sense of humor.

    A staunch patriot, the elder Zweizig would say without hesitation, "I'd go back and do my part again."

    After retiring, Zweizig had a farm in St. Lawrence. For the last eight years, he lived in Denver with Zachary and his wife Annie.

    "I'm proud of what he did and the life that he lived," said Zachary, 39, a martial arts instructor. "I hope I can live such a fulfilling life."

    Annie, also a martial arts instructor, marveled at the elder Zweizig's matter-of-fact way of coping with danger.

    "Pop-Pop was a practical guy," she said. "He would talk about crashing a plane like it was just another day at the office."

    During the solemn service, Andy Muller recalled his uncle as a quality guy who was part of a generation that was proud to serve their country.

    "These guys built the country," declared Muller. "They put themselves aside and did their duty."
    Such as this is why we honor --ALL-- those that served!
    This man is such a great example of our military.
    One that fought in 3 wars ! And served honorably, bravely and with great distinction.
    I salute him and all of our brave military.
    May God always keep and bless 'em.....--Tyr
    18 U.S. Code § 2381-Treason Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyr-Ziu Saxnot View Post
    Such as this is why we honor --ALL-- those that served!
    This man is such a great example of our military.
    One that fought in 3 wars ! And served honorably, bravely and with great distinction.
    I salute him and all of our brave military.
    May God always keep and bless 'em.....--Tyr
    I think of our constitution and all of our enjoyed freedoms every memorial day. And then I think long and hard about the men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve those.

    A great post from a friend we all know:

    Memorial Day, significance thereof.
    It was created to honor deceased and buried service members. It was not created to honor just one faction, but to honor all.
    From the U.S. Revolution clear up to the present, it honors all Veterans, living or dead.

    Expanded to include honor to our Great Allies, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Poland.

    Honor our Departed Vets; Respect our present Vets in spite of political differences.

    Submitted with sincere Respect...Elessar...37 year USCG Vet.
    How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on him! (was my Mom's favorite joke )

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  5. #3
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    Default From One Thankful VETERAN to a Real Hero.


    I may be older than most. I may say things not everybody will like.
    But despite all of that. I will never lower myself to the level of Liars, Haters, Cheats, and Hypocrites.

  6. Thanks Gunny, Tyr-Ziu Saxnot thanked this post

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