1st Lieutenant William E. Zimmerman
Company C 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
4th Infantry Division
Killed in Action April 28, 1968
Home of Record: Frederick, MD
Date of birth: 08/05/1942
Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: O2
Rank: First Lieutenant
MOS: 1542: Infantry Unit Commander
Length Service: 02
Unit: C CO, 1ST BN, 22ND INFANTRY, 4TH INF DIV, USARV
Start Tour: 09/16/1967
Incident Date: 04/28/1968
Casualty Date: 04/28/1968
Age at Loss: 25
Location: Kontum Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Artillery, rocket, or mortar
William Zimmerman was killed in
action while on Operation Mac Arthur/Binh Tay,
during the Battle of Chu Moor Mountain, approximately 25 kilometers west of Polei Krong.
1st Lieutenant William Zimmerman's decorations
Bill Zimmerman in Vietnam, 1968
Bill's brother Chuck served in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
.....we found through
much research Bill was declared "clear to leave the
country" to meet his wife Claudia in Hawaii.
Claudia was about to get on the plane with her bags packed when her father called with news about Bill. Bill decided
to return to the men in his platoon when he learned that his replacement was wounded and medevac'd out of fierce battle
with 66th regular NVA at Chu Moor. Bill was KIA approx 20 minutes after he stepped off the chopper on his return to the firefight.
I was in Vietnam with
1st Inf out of Lai Khe all of 1967. My brother Bill arrived in
September '67 but we never saw
each other again. I knew from the report that accompanied Bill's Bronze Star there was much more to the story
that our family did not know. For one, he was already cleared to leave the area to meet his beautiful wife, Claudia -
we are still friends. It has taken over 30 years to get the rest of the story. I recently met Bill's OCS roomate in Chicago
for the first time. The roomate told me Bill made him and a few close friends swear they would never let anyone know
Bill had a brother in Vietnam. Bill wanted to be a career soldier - and he would have been a damn good soldiers' officer
had he survived. If the Army realized I was in Nam, Bill would have likely been deferred - a huge flag on his record,
Bill being someone who wanted to be in for the long haul. I begged him not to come over. It was hot and getting hotter.
And we were - as it seems - playing touch and go - hit and run with the VC, rather than engaging them with
full intention of clearing the area completely. Bill was killed, along with a lot of other brave men fighting for a unknown hill.
Because Bill and I were
only 18 months apart in age, we did much together and were very
close. We were both active
in sports - Bill was always a little better than me. We dated some of the same girls. We liked playing army when
we were kids - Bill always wanted to be the general. I miss him, as does my sister and Claudia. When we get together
we drink, we cry and we laugh when we remember the things we did when Bill was alive. There are a lot of names
on the wall and we need to insure that they are not forgotten.
Bill Zimmerman and his wife Claudia
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96262
GENERAL ORDERS 21 May 1968
1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously:
ZIMMERMAN, WILLIAM E JR FIRST LIEUTENANT INFANTRY United States Army, Co C, 1st Bn, 22d Inf, 4th Inf Div, APO 96262
Date action: 28 April 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
For heroism in connection with military operations against
a armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.
First Lieutenant Zimmerman distinguished himself while serving as a Platoon Leader. On 28 April 1968,
Company C was occupying Chu Moor Hill west of Kontum City when a large North Vietnamese force
launched a heavy volume of rocket, mortar, and automatic weapons fire at their position.
Despite the intensity of the hostile fire, Lieutenant Zimmerman rushed to the perimeter positions
occupied by his men. Astutely analyzing possible enemy assault routes, he aggressively organized retaliatory fire.
Pointing out targets and shouting words of encouragement, Lieutenant Zimmerman greatly inspired his men
in repelling the hostile assault. As the fire fight grew in intensity, ammunition became critically low.
Grasping the seriousness of the situation, Lieutenant Zimmerman organized and led a resupply team
to replenish the ammunition supply along the defensive perimeter. As he maneuvered through the hostile fire
with the resupply team, he was mortally wounded by a hostile mortar round that impacted nearby.
His outstanding leadership and aggressive actions clearly prevented more serious casualties
and greatly aided and inspired his men in repelling the hostile assault. First Lieutenant Zimmermans
courageous leadership, professional skill, and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with
the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Authority: By direction of the President under provisions of Executive Order 11046, 24 August 1962.
On July 12, 2007 former
comrades-in-arms, family and friends met at the gravesite of Bill
in Arlington Cemetery, to honor their fallen brother.
Bud Roach speaking at Bill Zimmerman's
grave site in Arlington Cemetery
Also in the picture Jack Chavez, Wells Lyman, Charlie Shyab, and Alan Ackley July 12, 2007
The following is the speech given by Bud Roach:
Claudia and the family of Lt.
Zimmerman. I want to apologize for this taking place thirty nine
years too late,
however, it is indeed a unique experience for all of us to get the opportunity to relay some things
that have been on our minds all of those years.
I will refer to the New
Testament Book of John chapter 15. Jesus is teaching about many
topics in the book of John.
He is instructing his disciples in what they would need to know when He would no longer be with them.
Beginning with the ninth verse He began teaching about love. In verse twelve Jesus says to love one another
as I have loved you. Then in verse thirteen is the often quoted, "greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends."
Every time I hear this verse I think of Lt. Zimmerman.
This is my first time to visit Washington D.C. and Arlington Cemetery. I have always heard about how awe inspiring it is
just to walk inside the gate onto these grounds. It is true---when I saw the rows of markers a feeling of being in a sacred place
came over me. It is humbling to see the immense sacrifice that we, as a nation, must pay to protect the fundamentals
that we hold dear.
Each marker represents a life lost for this country, however, we have no personal connection to most of those buried here.
Our purpose for being here today, at this grave site, is important because we do have a personal link
to the person laid to rest here. I have told my wife that I do not want my coffin opened when my time comes.
I want people to remember me the way they knew me best. That is the way it is for me and the others here
and our memory of Bill Zimmerman.
When I think of him ---in my
mind's eye I see him just as I knew him---a strong, handsome,
dark haired young man.
He was an outdoorsman---a Daniel Boone from Maryland. When he smiled his eyes squinted and his whole face smiled.
He spoke often about his love for his wife and family. That will never change---in my heart--in my memory---
that is the Bill Zimmerman I know.
On one occasion Lt. Z told me he would be a general some day. My reply was that in less than a year I would be a civilian.
Bill Zimmerman was a dedicated professional and a natural born leader, He was doing what he felt he was called to do.
He was trusted and respected by the men who served under him.
In return, Bill showed true concern for his men. It was this obligation to his men that was the driving force for him
to return to the field and rejoin his unit on April 28, 1968. There is no greater way Bill Zimmerman could have demonstrated
his love and concern for his men than to return to lead them during a crisis.
I speak for those who are here today and for many more who could not be here. We stand in reverence
to the memory of a friend and comrade. There are no words---there are no medals that can define the valor
demonstrated by Lt. William E. (Bill) Zimmerman.
A hero laid to rest in a field among heroes.
Bill Zimmerman's grave in Arlington Cemetery
Jack Chavez speaking at Bill Zimmerman's grave site July 12, 2007
Claudia Zimmerman Jackson response to the ceremony for Bill Zimmerman July 12, 2007
Brian Smith was a classmate of Bill
Zimmerman in Officer's Candidate School. He and his fellow
have honored Bill and the other members of that class who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The following photo shows the memorial they have placed at Fort Benning, where they graduated
from Officer's Candidate School so long ago.
Memorial at Fort Benning
On Saturday, March 7,
2009, it will be 42 years to the day that we graduated from
at Ft. Benning, GA - and your classmates will again gather at that very spot to re-dedicate the memorial
we placed in 2002 honoring you and the others from Class 14-67, including two of our Tac Officers,
who gave all in support of your comrades. We will bring you flowers, share stories of those 6 months
we spent together earning those gold bars and afterwards we will raise a glass to all who cant be with us.
Ah, but you are always with us.
Mar 2, 2009
OCS Classmate - 4th Infantry Division from 10/67 to 10/68 G-2 Air and an L-19 back seat Visual Observer and FAC.
The following is part of an e-mail Brian received from Charles "Doc" Shyab, who served with Bill Zimmerman:
" I can't tell you how the
men's spirits soared when Lt. Z volunteered to return to lead us.
That did a lot for the whole company. His example and leadership will long be remembered
and appreciated. His loss was so very hard because of the mutual respect shown by him and to him."
In another e-mail Brian received from
John Bobb, who also served with Bill, John related
that two of the most remarkable men he ever met were Rick Rescorla and Bill Zimmerman.
John had this to say about Bill:
" He did what he was capable
of doing......He had years of maturity and months of
Many people live their lives and never really meet even one remarkable person.
Rick Rescorla and Bill Zimmerman are great men and heroes in the truest sense of the word."
William E. Zimmerman is recorded on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Wash. D.C. on Panel 54E Line 1
Bill Zimmerman was killed in
action during the Battle for Chu Moor mountain.
The website is grateful to John McKee and Charlie "Doc" Shyab
for contributing the rubbings they took of all the names
of the 1st Battalion Killed In Action during the battle for Chu Moor.
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