Jerrold M. Zacharias Captain, U. S. Navy Retired, 92

May 03, 2020

Jerrold M. Zacharias, 92, died Sunday, May 3, 2020 at Willow Valley Retirement Community, Willow Street, PA.

In June 1946, Mr. Zacharias enlisted in the U. S. Navy and served two years as a deck seaman before entering the U. S. Naval Academy in June 1948. He graduated in June 1952, with the rank of Ensign and a Bachelors Degree in Naval Science. Being an Annapolis graduate was very important to him throughout his life. After serving as an instructor in Seamanship and Navigation for the new incoming class at the Naval Academy, he completed Navy basic flight training at Pensacola, FL and was designated a naval aviator in December 1953. Following advanced jet flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville Field, Texas in August 1953, he was assigned to Attack Squadron SEVENTY-TWO at the NAS Quonset Point, RI flying the F9F-5 “Panther and A4D-1 “Skyhawk” jet aircraft.

On August 14, 1954, he married the love of his life, the former Rita Jeannine Timmons of Millsboro, DE. They had three wonderful sons – Matt, Dana and David, four grandchildren Nicholas, Patrick, Alex, Wendy Shara and one great-grandson Vance Shara. Dana passed away on 1 March 2017. I was truly blessed to have such a loving, caring, talented, and intelligent wife, who raised our family while I was away at sea for six Christmases in a row and a total of 11 years out of the first 22 years that we were married.

In August 1957, he was transferred to NAS Oceana, VA and then to Advanced Training Unit 223 in Beeville, TX where he served two years as a jet flight instructor, Student Control Officer and Landing Signal Officer (LSO) training new students in carrier landing techniques. From June 1959 until June 1961, he was a student at the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA where he was awarded a Degree in Aeronautical Engineering (Flight Performance).

From June 1961 until January 1966, he completed consecutive assignments on the Air Wing EIGHT staff as Administrative Officer and LSO; in Attack Squadron EIGHTY-THREE as Maintenance Officer and Operations Officer; and on the Air Wing EIGHT Staff as Operations Officer.

In 1966, he attended a six months course of instruction at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA and was then ordered to Attack Squadron SEVENTY-FIVE (VA-75) deployed in the Mediterranean, as Executive Officer and later as Commanding Officer. He led the VA-75 “Sunday Punchers” on an eight-month combat deployment to Vietnam aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), where he completed 87 combat missions over North Vietnam, flying the all-weather, A-6 “Intruder” aircraft. During this combat deployment he was awarded the Navy Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Individual Air Medals, 8 Strike/Flight Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation. My wife Rita was an inspiration to our VA-75 squadron officers and enlisted wives for her guidance while we were in combat in Vietnam, and was respected for her assistance to our sister NAS Oceana, Virginia squadron VA-35, who had lost their senior level management in combat.
From July 1968 until June 1970, he was assigned to the staff of Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, Norfolk, Virginia as head of the Attack Air Warfare Section. In this capacity he was the project officer and supervisor for operational testing of Navy attack aircraft, aviation air-to-ground weapons and major aviation related weapons systems. From June 1970 until July 1971, he was Commanding Officer, Attack Squadron FORTY-TWO at NAS Oceana, VA and was responsible for training fleet pilots and bombardier/navigators in the A-6 aircraft. He then completed a ten-month course of instruction at the National War College, Washington, D. C., followed by an assignment on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) as Special Assistant to the CNO for Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Matters (OP-09BW). During this assignment he was the overall Navy coordinator for “Operation Homecoming” when our prisoners of war returned from Vietnam in 1973, a most rewarding assignment. He then completed a sixteen months assignment as Commanding Officer of the attack transport USS Francis Marion (LPA-249). In January 1975, he returned to the Pentagon as Navy Deputy Director, Aircraft Plans and Programs (OP-51B). On 1 March 1978, he retired after 28 years of naval service with the rank of Captain. He accumulated 3,642 flight hours in 22 different type aircraft and had 610 carrier landings on 13 different aircraft carriers.

From March 1978 until June 1992, he was employed by DCS Corporation, an engineering firm in Alexandria, VA specializing in electro-optics, sensor systems and support for Navy and Army weapons systems. During his 14 years with DCS, he served as Branch Manager, Department Head, Division Manager and finally Senior Vice President and DCS Operations Manager. He was also a member of the DCS Board of Directors for eight years.

From 2004-2006, Captain Zacharias was the President (Pilot) of the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association, better known as “The Golden Eagles.” In 1998, as historian for this organization, he developed and published “The Chronolog,” a book of 721 biographies of current and deceased members of the Golden Eagles. He also obtained a U. S. Trademark for the organization. He was extremely proud to be a member and President of the Golden Eagles, whose members were astronaut heroes, military legends and fighter “Aces”. He was also a member of the Association of Naval Aviation, The Tailhook Association, The A-6 “Intruder” Association, U. S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, was an active member of Willow Street United Church of Christ in Willow Street, PA. He constructed the websites and was the webmaster for the Willow Street Church, the Naval Academy Class of 1952 and his son’s company, ZAX Millimeter Wave Corporation in Upland, CA.

He was proud to be an American that offered opportunity and freedom of expression. He treasured his family as he watched them grow successful businesses, and had a special place in his heart for his fellowship with Navy classmates, The Golden Eagles and his wife Rita and family.

Private Interment will take place in Willow Street UCC Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the US Naval Academy, 121 Blake Road, Annapolis, MD 21402-5000 or to A&E Hearing Connections, 235 Bloomfield Dr., Ste. 108, Lititz, PA 17543.

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Condolences to the Family

July 26, 2020

…I knew my friend, Zack, had an adventurous life, but I had no idea HOW ADVENTUROUS!
I felt priveliged just to be on his E-Mail List. I miss his humor already. God speed, Zack!
My condolances to his family and friends.
Richard Noar

July 11, 2020

I was so sorry for the passing of my first Skipper.  I was just E-3 Airmen during our WestPac of 1967-68.  Captain Zachirias was always a hero to me and our Squadron.  I speak of him glowingly all the time.  I get together every Veterans Day with another member of VA-75.  RIP Skipper.  You were the best. 🙏❤️
Stephen Holland

May 11, 2020

Captain Zacharias was an Officer and a Gentleman and a superior leader.  I served under his command in     VA-42 as a LTJG.  He guided my early naval career and I was a better officer as a result.  We could use more of his leadership qualities in our society today.  May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Michael Strand, Captain, USN (Retired)

May 10, 2020

Matt,  Your fatuer was a sensational man and patriiot.  We send our condolences
marvin daley

May 10, 2020

Matt, I was soroy to read about you dad in this morning’s paper.  I didn’t know him but he certainly lived an accomplished life.  Yoiu and your family have all my sympathy.  Eileen Buch Bicking (Merv’s daughter)

May 10, 2020

condolences from one who served with ‘Zach’ in VA-72 at Quonset Point. as a plane-captain. I remember him as one of  the greats.  K. Bartlett/ Homestead Village

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