ZONNE, ROBERT JOHN JR.
ZONNE, ROBERT JOHN JR.
Rank / Branch:
CPT, U.S. ARMY
25th INFANTRY DIVISI
Date of Birth:
NON-HOSTILE AIR CRAS
Awards & Decorations:
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ZONNE, ROBERT JOHN JR., CAPTAIN, U.S. ARMY, MIDLAND, MIDLAND COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachute Wings, Ranger Tab, Bronze Star with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters and "V" device, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendations Medal with "V"device and Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Robert John Zonne, Jr. was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Louise Shackland Zonne and Robert J. Zonne. His parent's were California natives. His father had graduated from Stanford University in 1938 and during World War II, he was a naval officer. Bob was born while he was father was serving with Navy. After World War II, the family was joined by Bob's younger brother, William (Bill) born in 1946. In 1950, the family moved to Midland, Texas. Bob's father made an immediate contribution to Midland by serving on the Midland School Board from 1953 until 1958. His last year he was the President of that organization.
Bob attended Midland schools and was active in academics and sports. He was 1960 honor's graduate of Midland High School. While in high school, he had a burning desire to attend a service academy. He joined the local Naval Reserve and entered Bullis Prep School Maryland. He was able to get his appointment to West Point by exam. He entered the USMA as a plebe in the fall of 1961.
At USMA Class of 1965, Third Row, fourth person, left to right
Robert graduated in 1965 from West Point and was commissioned a 2nd Lt., Regular Army in the Infantry. He took his Infantry Basic Officer's Course, parachute and Ranger training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He, then joined the 101st as a company executive officer with the 101st at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Recognizing the road to a successful career, he voluteered for Vietnam. While preparing for this tour, he married Patricia McDougal in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 14, 1967. He had met Pat during his plebe year at the Academy. She was a cousin of his roommate his plebe year.
In May 1967, he he started his first tour in Vietnam and was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. He spent his tour acting as an advisor to several South Vietnamese ranger battalions. The entire one year tour was spent in the field, much in the Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border.
Awarding Medals to His Troops, Second Tour
Captain Zonne started his second tour in Vietnam on July 18, 1969. He was first assigned as company commander with the 25th Infantry Division and served in that capacity for his first six months. He was then assigned as a Division Communication's Officer for the 25th Infantry Division to work liasion with the various command components in the field. This assignment required that he shuttle on a daily basis between Cu Chi and Long Binh.
On April 17, 1970, Captain Zonne boarded a UH-1H, tail number 67-17706. The aircraft was assigned to perform division courier duty. The primary misssion was to fly the division couriers as needed while at the same time interjecting passenger pick up and drop offs of other personnel during the courier run. The crew were on their final mission of the day and flew to II Field Force where the crew departed the aircraft for their evening meal. This was at about 1720 hours. They were on the ground for approximately one hour. Captain Zonne boarded the aircraft at this time. The aircraft and passengers departed at about 1812 hours headed for Cu Chi base camp. The aircraft was flying at an attitude of about 70 feet AGL and was following the Saigon River. Around 1825 hours, the aircraft struck two stranded cables suspended between two poles. The point of impact when the helicopter struck the first cable was at the nose of the aircraft. The velocity of this tossed the aircraft up and over and the main rotor was separated when it struck the second cable. The helicopter then crashed into the Saigon River.
Three bodies were found floating at the surface when ground forces and rescue arrived for assistance. Two of the three were alive, including Captain Zonne. Captain Zonne and the other survivor were taken to the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh. Captain Zonne died three days later on April 20, 1970 from injuries suffered in the crash. The other fatalities perished from drowning and/or other causes. There were 11 personnel on the aircraft at the time of the incident.
Captain Robert John Zonne, Jr. was buried with full millitary honors at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He was survived by his wife and his parents and by his younger brother.
Unites States Military Academy Cemetery, West Point, New York