Retired Jan. 1, 1963.
Virgil Lee Zoller was born in Marion, Ill., in 1914. He graduated from the Marion Township High School in 1932 and entered the U.S. Army as a private that same year. Two years later he received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in June 1938.
The young second lieutenant's first assignment was to pilot training school. In 1939 he received his pilot's wings when he graduated from flight training at Kelly Field, Texas. Today the general is rated a command pilot and has been checked out in numerous types of aircraft, from the small L-20 to jets.
After winning his pilot's wings he was assigned as a flight instructor at Kelly until November 1940. From Kelly Field he was transferred to Harlingen, Texas where he was commander of the First Training Division until he left in December 1943. For a period of about a month the general was commanding officer of the First Emergency Rescue Squadron at Boca Raton, Fla.
This concluded the young officer's stateside assignments for a while and as Lieutenant Colonel Zoller he was transferred to the 15th Air Force in Italy where he flew combat and served as assistant to the chief of staff, A-3, l5th Air Force, and deputy commander of a B-24 Bomb Group until May 1945.
Flying as a crew member in addition to his staff job earned for the general the Air Medal and in September 1944 he was promoted to colonel.
Returning to Texas after his overseas tour, Colonel Zoller was deputy wing commander, 79th Flying Training Wing, Harlingen, Texas for a brief period until he was transferred in February 1946. His next assignment was as a student attending the command class of the Command and General Staff College until July 1946. Then he was sent to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas as provost marshal and later commanding officer, Wing 11, Air Training Command, at that base. In March 1948 he was transferred to the 354th Air Base Unit, San Antonio, Texas as assistant chief of staff, A-5.
The next assignment was the beginning of the Far East phase of Colonel Zoller's assignments. Transferred to China as a member of the Military Advisory Group at Nanking, Colonel Zoller served as assistant chief of staff, A-3 until the group was forced from the country by the communists in December 1948. In 1949 he assumed command of the 437th Fighter Wing (Far East Air Force) and in May 1950 he took over as commander, 5th Interceptor Wing (FEAF). Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean Conflict he assumed command of the 3rd Bomb Wing.
It was as commander of the 3rd Bomb Wing that Colonel Zoller received an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross he had won during World War II and three oak leaf clusters for his Air Medal. He also received the Legion of Merit and the Silver Star. The citation for this medal reads in part; "Colonel Zoller distinguished himself by gallantry in action as a pilot of n B-26 attack bomber during a daylight interdiction mission on 11 December 1950, when he attacked an enemy transportation, buildings and troops in the vicinity of Sinuiju, Korea ... Colonel Zoller's gallant performance and outstanding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the service and reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, and the United States Air Force."
Returning to the United States in 1951, Colonel Zoller served as a staff officer at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, Langley Field, Va., until he assumed command of the 131st Fighter Bomber Wing, later designated the 479th Fighter Bomber Wing at George Air Force Base Calif., in March 1952.
In August 1953 he attended the Air War College and in July 1954 became chief, Mi1itary Capabilities Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. In July 1956 he was transferred and became deputy director for estimates and chief, Policy and Management Group, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He was promoted to brigadier general in July 1957.
His next transfer was back to the Far East in August 1957 when he assumed command of the 14th Air Division and U.S. Air Forces Korea, the position he currently holds.