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Brigadier General Don Z. Zimmerman:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Retired.   Died May 11, 1983.
General Zimmerman was born in 1903, in Eugene, Ore. He received bachelor of arts, master of arts and a commission as a second lieutenant in the reserve of the U.S. Army while at the University of Oregon where he entered at the age of 15 in 1919 after graduation from Eugene High School, was a graduate assistant in the Department of Geology and instructor in the ROTC for two years, the cadet colonel in the ROTC, lettered in basketball and baseball and was captain of the baseball team.
In 1925 he received a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. While there he was a distinguished cadet for three years (average grade above 92 percent), cadets captain and company commander, president of his class each year, and played on the football, basketball and baseball teams. Again he captained the baseball team. He graduated in 1929 sixth in a class of 299. He was commissioned regular second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers but chose flying training duty. Later he received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Military Academy.
Lieutenant Zimmerman's first assignment was that of a student officer at March Field, Calif. In 1930 he received his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, and today is rated a command pilot. His first duty as an Air Corps officer was as assistant commander of Cadets, Air Corps Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field, Texas. From 1931 to 1934 he was assistant group operations officer at Luke Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Upon return to the United States and after a short tour at Crissy Field, San Francisco, Calif., the Air Corps sent him to the California Institute of Technology where he received a master of science degree in engineering (meteorology) in 1936. During his next tour of four years as weather officer and instructor at the Air Corps Primary Flying School, Randolph Field, Texas, he wrote the text "Weather Manual for Pilots" used throughout the Air Corps and U.S. Army.
He returned to West Point in 1940 as a mathematics instructor. Early in 1941, due to the war in Europe, he was again sent to the California Institute of Technology to study and research the problems of long range weather forecasting.
He was appointed director of Weather for the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Army early in 1942 and organized the weather service for the global extent of World War II during the first year of participation by the United States. He then attended the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, commanded a light bombardment group and was in the first class of the Army-Navy Staff College created by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1943.
Upon graduation he was ordered to the Pacific Ocean Area and assigned as chief and deputy chief, Joint Planning Staff, Fifth Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet. He prepared plans for the capture of the Marshall Islands and during the execution of those plans he went ashore in a Marine Uniform with the 4th Marine Division during its assault and capture of Roi-Namur Island in Kwajalein Atoll.
In 1944 he returned to Washington where he was chief of the Policy Section in the Operations Division of the War Department General Staff until after the defeat of Germany. His activities there earned the Legion of Merit in 1945. Before the war with Japan was over he was ordered to Guam in the Pacific Area as deputy plans officer for the U.S. Strategic Air Forces where he earned the first oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit. Returning to the United States in 1945 after Japan surrendered, he was in the Office of the Secretary of War until he became assistant air attach, United States Embassy, London, England, and attended the Imperial Defense College during 1946.
Upon coming back to the United States he became chairman of the Advanced Study Group in the War Department General Staff and in 1950 chairman of the Joint Advanced Study Committee of the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
When the war in Korea broke out in 1950 he was sent to the Headquarters Far East Air Forces as director of Plans, Programs and Policy. He then was deputy for Intelligence, Far East Air Forces until after the termination of the Korean conflict in 1953. He became a brigadier general and was awarded two Legions of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal while in the Far East.
After Korea he was named dean of faculty for the as yet uncreated U.S. Air Force Academy. After helping establish that institution and seeing the first class of Air Force cadets enter in 1955, he was sent again to the Pentagon as deputy director of Development Planning, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In 1958 he became assistant for Foreign Developments, Deputy Chief of Staff, Development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
General Zimmerman is a member of the American Meteorological Society, and associate fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
INTERESTS
Has made several collections of rocks and minerals; maintains his interests in meteorology and weather forecasting and does a little guessing of his own from time to time; golfs and swims; likes to hike in the mountains and bathe at the seashore; plays chess and bowls occasionally, has a habit of returning to the University of Oregon for homecoming.
Is a highly trained meteorologist and mineralogist.
Frequently attends cooperative forum meetings in Washington, D.C., and military meetings of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences; is a member of the Meteorological society.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Legion of Merit, with three oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Service Meal
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
Interest in and reads on philosophy, ethics, national and foreign affairs; has a lively interest in art and architecture; in travel he prefers France, Germany and Japan and highly oceanic climates in the middle latitudes; has visited most of the national parks in the United States and loves the mountains, particularly the snowcaps of the Middle West.
UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES
In July 1931, while flying a Thomas Morse O-19, the first Air Corps plane with a metal fuselage, during a dive bombing training mission, the bomb release gear stuck and while attempting an abrupt pull out, the airplane grazed the ground, did three complete rolls and lit right side up minus the landing gear and with the upper wing sagging down on the lower wings of the biplane. The engine was located a quarter of a mile down the beach. The officers and men on the ground at the bombing range rushed to the wreck expecting to find Lieutenant Zimmerman dead. When they arrived, he was crawling back to the cockpit looking for the first sergeant who had been thrown back to the conigle tail section of the metal fuselage. Both survived the crash due to the ruggedness of the new metal fuselage.
EPIGRAMS AND MOTTOES
"I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Voltaire
"A sound, practical American philosophy of life is an essential goal." General Zimmerman
"A healthy society is the first requirement for national security." General Zimmerman
Stresses accuracy, loyalty and sincerity in all relationships.
Frowns upon insincerity, premature judgement, slipshod work; is skeptical of bombast, a glib tongue, shortcuts, cure-all, easy solutions, etc.
He believes interest in the work being done is essential.

 

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