Orland Park Eagle project honors officer who made ultimate sacrifice
By Evan F. Moore Correspondent July 20, 2014 5:14PM
A member of Orland Park Boy Scout Troop 383 salutes Saturday during the dedication of a memorial garden named for Capt. Ronald Zinn at the Orland Park Veterans Center. | Evan F. Moore/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 22, 2014 6:15AM
Orland Park Boy Scout Troop 383 Life Scout Tim Klotz comes from a long line of public servants.
He said once he knew what he wanted to do for his Eagle Scout candidate’s project, people were eager to help.
“It was amazing how people jumped up,” Klotz said. “All I had to say that he was a veteran, he was killed in action and that he was an Olympian.”
Klotz was the master of ceremonies for the dedication ceremony of a memorial garden named after Capt. Ronald Zinn on Saturday morning at the village of Orland Park Veterans Center.
Zinn was the first person from Orland Park to make the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.
Zinn, a Peoria native, graduated from Sandburg High School in 1957. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1962 and represented America in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics as a race walker.
Zinn also was the first West Point cadet to compete in the Olympics.
He was killed in Vietnam on July 7, 1965, while trying to save his platoon leader.
Klotz, 14, an incoming freshman at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, received a certification of recognition for community service from retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. James McQuillen during the ceremony. McQuillen was a West Point classmate of Zinn.
Margie Owens-Klotz, Tim’s mother, was aware of the project, but she didn’t realize the family ties between her family and Zinn’s.
“I knew who Ron Zinn was. I had heard of him. What’s amazing is the connection between the two families,” Owens-Klotz said. “My uncle was a Vietnam vet. He went to school with Jerry and Joyce (Zinn’s siblings). Ron Zinn’s mother worked at Timmy’s great-grandfather’s restaurant.”
John Bartosiewicz, of Burbank, the Chapter X Commander of the American Veterans Motorcycle Association, said: “Being a Vietnam vet myself, I make it a point to rally the troops and come out and support it. I feel humbled and honored to come to these types of events.”
Zinn’s family, along with members of the Orland Park Veterans Commission, six representatives from Zinn’s West Point Class of 1962 and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars also attended the ceremony.
The plaque was unveiled by Klotz and Zinn’s siblings, Jerry and Joyce.
Klotz said he wanted the memorial to be different from others.
“I wanted to make sure there was a sign. I wanted people to see the history and see what (Zinn) did and the type of person he was.”